India has begun retaliatory steps against US diplomats in the capital and other major Indian cities, following the mistreatment of an Indian official in New York.
The first step was the withdrawal of passport passes, and all import clearances have been halted.
All US diplomatic corps personnel was asked to surrender identity cards and airport passes. Concrete barricades were also removed around the US Embassy, an important protective measure in the event of terrorist activity. But the Indian authorities went even further, by askin full disclosure of banking and salary information for Embassy personnel of Indian nationality.
Although India and the US are close allies, the incident in New York has been received badly just in light of those close ties between the countries.
The incident that sparked the backlash occurred when an Indian diplomat was handcuffed in public and released on a secured bond of 250,000$ later the same day.
Devyani Khobragade was stopped when authorities confronted her about visa fraud charges. The visa, which served to support entry in the US for the household help for Ms. Khobragade, was found to have been obtained through false information. The authorities in the US also accused the diplomat of paying the household employee less than the mandatory minimum wage.
At issue here is the fact that Khobragrade, should not have publicly arrested and processed through a detention facility due to the fact that she is covered by diplomatic immunity, or at least that is what Indian authorities contend.
However, the arrest may have come on the heels of recent human rights violations of personnel or individuals taken to the United States to effectively be kept in near bondage. In the case of Ms. Khobragrade, this might not have the issue, but suspicions of such cases are investigated vigorously to avoid human rights abuses.
However, the Indian diplomat could face 10 years in prison for her actions. The cloak of immunity only extends to activities that are related to her work in the Indian Embassy and therefore does not extend to private actions or personal life.
India however, like many Asian countries is very sensitive to issues that shed a negative light on the country, or is perceived as a humiliation.
For now, the tension is very high, and might not abate any time soon, considering that Ms. Khobragrade is due to appear in court to defend herself of the criminal counts she is accused of.
Source : NPR/The Hindu/ 12.17.13