Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The arrest of India's deputy consul general in New York has sparked tensions between India and the U.S., with Indian officials snubbing a U.S. congressional delegation and ordering the removal of barricades that protect the American embassy in Dehli.
The diplomatic drama began last week when Indian deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade, 39, was arrested for making false statements in support of a visa application for an Indian national whom she had brought to New York as part of her household staff.
Authorities also claim Khobragade paid the woman less than minimum wage. The Indian government alleges mistreatment during her arrest and lodged a formal complaint with U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell. Khobragade's lawyer says she was strip-searched and detained with hard-core criminals.
U.S. Department of State deputy spokesperson Marie Harf commented on the arrest during yesterday's daily press briefing:
"The State Department’s Diplomatic Security followed standard procedures during the arrest. After her arrest, she was passed on to the U.S. Marshals for intake and processing. So for any additional questions on her treatment, obviously, this would be the U.S. Marshals and not us. I would refer you there."
Refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill-treatment meted to our lady diplomat in USA.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 17, 2013
The Indian government has responded sharply to the arrest and alleged mistreatment, ordering all U.S. consular officers to turn in their identity cards and all U.S. diplomatic staff in India to turn in their airport passes.
The government also ordered the Delhi Police to remove the concrete barricades protecting the roads surrounding the U.S. Embassy in Delhi. The Indian government is also attempting to review the salary and bank accounts of all locally employed Indian staff at the missions, and stopping all U.S. Embassy import clearances, including for alcohol.
Indian officials have also canceled meetings with a visiting U.S. congressional delegation. Prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi tweeted his snub of a U.S. congressional delegation in protest of the arrest. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also refused to meet with the congressional delegation.
[Washington Post] [U.S. Department of State] [The Hindu] [Times of India]