UK & World News

  • 10 January 2014, 13:37

Indian Diplomat's Family Slam 'Inhuman' US

The family of an Indian envoy whose arrest in the US has sparked a diplomatic crisis have slammed her "inhuman" treatment.

Uttam Khobragade, father of Devyani Khobragade, hit out after his daughter was strip-searched when arrested over allegations that she lied about how much she paid her maid.

He told a news conference in Delhi: "As a family, we would not like to touch the soil of the country which treats human beings in such an inhuman way, in an utter violation of human rights, an utter violation of the Geneva Convention."

Mr Khobragade said he expected his daughter to arrive in India with her husband and children "very soon" after she was ordered to leave the US, where she could not be prosecuted because of her diplomatic immunity status.

Ms Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, was held in December on charges of visa fraud and underpaying a maid.

Delhi said it was "shocked and appalled" and demanded an apology after she was handcuffed and strip-searched at the time of her arrest.

She left New York on a flight from JFK airport on Thursday night hours after she was indicted on criminal charges and India refused to waive her immunity.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said: "At the time of her departure to India, Counsellor Khobragade reiterated her innocence of charges filed against her.

"She affirmed her gratitude to the government of India, in particular to the external affairs minister, and the people of India, as also the media, for their strong and sustained support during this period."

Ms Khobragade could be arrested and forced to answer the charges if she returned to the US without diplomatic immunity.

The row began when Ms Khobragade was arrested following a complaint by her maid Sangeeta Richard.

She in turn accused her employee of theft and attempted blackmail.

The circumstances of her arrest prompted protests on the streets of India and diplomatic reprisals from Delhi.

Senior Indian politicians and officials snubbed a US delegation on a recent visit and security barricades around the American embassy in Delhi were removed.

On Wednesday, the US embassy was ordered to stop "commercial activities on its premises" and a club with a pool restaurant and tennis court was reportedly told to shut down.

The Indian government also said drivers of US diplomatic cars could be charged with traffic offences.

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