|Female Indian consul facing visa fraud charges in New York claimed immunity
A female Indian diplomat who has been charged with visa fraud in the US following arrest in New York, has revealed how she broke down after enduring “repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches.’’
Devyani Khobragade, a deputy consul, who is alleged to have underpaid her domestic helper, was arrested last Thursday as she dropped her children at school, sparking anger in India, which branded the incident humiliating and prompting reprisals against US officials in India, AFP reports.
In an email to colleagues, Khobragade said she repeatedly told arresting authorities that she had diplomatic immunity only to suffer repeated searches as well as being jailed with “common criminals.’’
“I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a hold up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity,'' she said in the email published on the Times of India's website today.
“I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride,'' she said.
In the email, Khobragade implored the Indian government to ensure her safety and that of her children and preserve the dignity of the Indian diplomatic service which was “unquestionably under siege.’’
Khobragade was detained for allegedly underpaying her domestic helper who is also an Indian and for lying on the helper's visa application form.
The comments came as the US State Department said the escalating dispute should not be allowed to damage ties between India and the United States.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted it was a sensitive issue but insisted it was a “separate and isolated incident'' which should not ''be tied together'' and allowed to affect broader US-Indian ties.
India on Tuesday launched a series of retaliatory measures, including a demand for US consular officials return identity cards that speed up travel into and through India.