India Abroad January 10, 2014 A7 SPECIAL/DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF
Signing a second contract with Richard,
which promised to pay Rs 25,000 as a base
salary, and Rs 5,000 for overtime, the
sources claimed, revealed that Khobragade
had no intention of obeying US laws. The
diplomat filed a case in the Delhi high court
that only mentioned the second contract, the
As per US laws, the salary had to be
deposited in the domestic worker’s
American bank account, which was not
done. This is disrespecting US laws, the government sources pointed out.
“How can a diplomat go to the US embassy
and lie to get a visa for her domestic worker?” one source asked.
The personal attacks on Bharara have
also upset US law enforcement circles. The
Jalandhar-born Bharara, who moved to the
US with his parents when he was three, has
been accused by sections of the Indian
media of trying to be ‘more white than the
whites;’ that he has political ambitions; and
wants to ‘please his white masters.’
Bharara, who has prosecuted terrorists like
the Times Square bomber and Viktor Bout,
On December 5, Bharara, right, annou-
nced charges against 25 serving and former
Russian diplomats for allegedly defrauding
Medicaid, an American government-run
health-care program, to obtain about $1.5
million in benefits over a decade.
Addressing the media after the arrest,
Bharara said it was a case ‘we would be prosecuting and making arrests in, but for
immunity.’ All the Russian diplomats had
The prosecutor was also demonized in
Pakistan when scientist Aafia Siddiqui was
sentenced to 86 years in prison after she was
convicted of grabbing a US soldier’s M-4
assault rifle and trying to shoot a group of
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and
US soldiers at an Afghan police compound
in July 2008, a charge she consistently denied during her trial.
He has now received similar flak in India
after Khobragade’s arrest.
“Criticism by the press or politicians does
not affect the prosecution in the US,” gov-
ernment officials told India Abroad. “Ever-
ything is done according to the rules and
handled professionally. Giving such consi-
derations would be a disservice to justice.”
The State Department, these sources ad-
ded, had no authority to ask prosecutors to
drop a case.
The investigation against Khobragade,
then India’s deputy consul general in New
York, the sources revealed, had been going
on for some time. The State Department had
informed the Indian government about the
case via the Indian embassy in Washington,
After her arrest, Khobragade was formally
transferred to India’s Permanent Mission to
the United Nations as a Counselor.
India has since stated that she enjoyed
diplomatic immunity even before her arrest,
having being accredited to the Permanent
Mission as an advisor in August 2013.
This was not brought to the attention of
the American authorities till two weeks after
her arrest, the US government sources said.
Since there is no possibility of the dismissal of the case against Khobragade, a
plea deal is feasible.
This involves a formal acknowledgement
of guilt in exchange for a lesser penalty, in
this case, possibly a fine and no jail time.
With a plea deal, the US government
sources felt, Dr Khobragade could avoid a
jail term, and pay a fine.
The case would end there, the sources said,
unsure if India’s ministry of external affairs,
which has taken a strident stand on the
issue, would agree to such an action.
If Khobragade is granted diplomatic
immunity by the State Department — the
Indians have sought this in view of her new
position at the Permanent Mission — and
she returns to India, the case against her will
continue, the sources added.
If she returns to the US — her husband is
an Indian-American professor — without
immunity, she will be in trouble.
ndian stuck to its stand in its
retaliation against the United
States embassy in the face of
Washington refusing to back off on
the Devyani Khobragade charges,
Even as India’s Ministry of External
Affairs awaited details of Indian staff
employed by American diplomatic
missions there, the Press Trust of
India reported that some current and
former employees had ‘come forward
with details of their emoluments
which are way below the wages being
paid to American staff in similar posi-
‘In fact, in the case of some semi-
skilled Indian staff, the wages may be
below those prescribed under India’s
Minimum Wages Act,’ PTI added.
The US refuted these media reports.
‘Our standard practice — and I have
no reason to believe that’s not the case
here — is to pay folks that work for us
in countries around the world in con-
junction with local law with local
practice,’ Marie Harf, deputy
spokesperson, State Department, was
quoted as saying.
‘I am happy to look into those specif-
ic reports,’ Harf said. ‘It is my under-
standing that at a minimum, it com-
ports with local law and local practice.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not
beyond that. So I am happy to check
and see what our practice is across the
board. I have no reason to believe that
our folks have done anything wrong on
At press time the MEA was awaiting
details of Indian staff employed by
American diplomatic missions.
However, India did address the
biggest American concern in the standoff — the security of its diplomatic missions.
Official sources said January 2, ‘As
many as 150 police personnel are being
deployed during a 24-hour period in
shifts at the US embassy, American
School and American Center in New
Delhi. Also, two police vehicles have
been permanently stationed along vari-
ous roads near the embassy.’
Earlier, about 120 police personnel
were deployed during a 24-hour period
for the security of these institutions.
India eases up on security,
stands firm on staff wages
India has addressed the biggest American concern in the standoff — the security of its diplomatic missions in India.
Official sources said January 2 that 150 police personnel were deployed during a 24-hour period at the US embassy,
American School and American Center in New Delhi.
The personal attacks on US Attorney Preet Bharara
have upset US law enforcement circles.
ANINDI TO MUKHERJEE/REUTERS
LUCAS JACKSON/REU TERS
Will India agree to a plea deal for Devyani?