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Diplomat's arrest: Home minister, Rahul Gandhi refuse to meet US delegation
December 17, 2013, 9:16 am

India on Tuesday hardened its stance further against the US for the humiliation meted out to its deputy consul general in New York Devyani Khobragade with Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi refusing to meet a visiting US congressional delegation.

Earlier, the US virtually justified the reported strip-search by New York police of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, saying "standard procedures" have been followed during her arrest.

"Diplomatic security, which is under the state department purview, followed standard procedures during her arrest," state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.

Harf was asked about media reports that 39-year-old Khobragade, the deputy consul general at New York, was strip-searched and confined with drug addicts after her detention. Media reports also said she was subjected to DNA swabbing.

"Our Diplomatic security folks followed our standard procedures, which I'm assuming are standard for diplomats because that's who our diplomatic security deals with," Harf said.

However, she referred the allegations regarding inhuman treatment of Khobragade to the US Marshalls, saying the Indian diplomat was handed over to them by the diplomatic security.

Harf said under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian deputy consul general enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

"There's different kinds of immunity. This isn't just in the US; it's all around the world. So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant," she said.

On Monday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and NSA Shivshankar Menon had refused to meet the delegation in retaliation against the US move.

Sources confirmed that the government made it a point to convey to the delegation that the Speaker was not going to receive them because she had been deeply troubled by the manner in which Khobragade, who is accused of visa fraud, had been dealt with by the US authorities.

The 1999-batch IFS officer, working as India's deputy consul general in New York, was detained from near the school of her children and later handcuffed.

Khobragade was strip-searched and confined with drug addicts after her detention in a visa fraud case. She was also subjected to DNA swabbing.

The five-member delegation was led by Congressman George Holding, Representative for North Carolina's 13th congressional district, who serves on the foreign affairs committee and judiciary committee.

The four other Congressmen are Pete Olson, David Schweikert, Robert Woodall and Madeliene Bordallo.

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