|Official claims Indian NY consul’s helper fled in July
A female Indian consul arrested in New York City and accused of paying her Indian domestic helper about US$3 an hour wage had claimed the woman blackmailed her over the summer, an Indian official said.
The case involving Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, has sparked a diplomatic spat between the United States and India, AP reports.
She was charged with lying on a visa application, saying she paid the housekeeper _ an Indian national _ US$4,500 a month, but actually paid her far below the minimum wage. She pleaded not guilty and was released on US$250,000 bail. She has denied the charges.
An official in India's External Affairs Ministry said today Khobragade filed a complaint with New York police and New Delhi police in July, saying the maid had disappeared and was trying to blackmail her.
According to the official, the housekeeper said she would not report Khobragade if she agreed to pay her more money and change her visa status to allow her to work elsewhere in the US
New Delhi police issued a warrant for her arrest if she returned to India, the official said.
A salary of US$3 an hour, or around US$24 for an eight-hour day, is more than what a well-paid maid would earn in New Delhi or Mumbai.
Typical salaries for a full time, live-in maid range from US$100 to US$150 per month, with most families also offering lodging, food, clothes and medical assistance.
On Wednesday, US Attorney Preet Bharara said Khobragade was treated very well, even given coffee and offered food while detained.
He also said Khobragade was afforded courtesies most Americans wouldn't get _ such as being allowed to make phone calls for two hours to arrange child care and sort out personal matters _ after she was arrested by US Department of State agents outside her children's Manhattan school.