Tensions swell as India expels US envoy

NEW DELHI: Amid mounting tensions between India and US, New Delhi Friday expelled a senior American diplomat in a tit for tat reaction as Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was withdrawn from the Indian Embassy there at the behest of the US government allowing her to return to India. 

It  is only the second instance of a US diplomat being expelled from India ever, the first instance being expulsion of George Griffin, then political Counsellor, 33 years ago. That was in retaliation against similar action being taken by the US against Prabhakar Menon, an Indian diplomat.

India gave American diplomat a little over 48 hours to leave the country, reports said. 

The government sources has said that India has the reason to believe that the expelled US embassy official is involved in the processes related to Khobragade case. 

The New York-based Khobragade’s arrest row escalated after the US failed to respect her diplomatic immunity and performed strip and cavity search on her. Moreover, the US has not even apologised yet for the diplomat’s arrest.

The US authorities earlier said that the Indian diplomat whose arrest sparked a row has now left the United States to fly back home. According to the reports, Devyani, who has been granted a G1 visa, has left her children behind and has thanked the Government of India (GOI) for helping her cause. 

India had demanded an unconditional apology from the US in regard to the arrest of India’s deputy consul general in New York after the widespread outrage. Devyani, however, denied all charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny Sangeeta Richards. 

Earlier today in New York, Devyani Khobragade was indicted for visa fraud and making false statements by a grand jury which held that the charges against her will remain with main prosecutor Preet Bharara saying, “There will not need to be an arraignment on the indictment scheduled at this time. We understand that the defendant was very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status. 

Meantime, the retaliatory steps taken by the government of banning all commercial activities within the US Embassy premises, freeze on duty-free liquor import, removal of traffic barriers, withdrawal of ID cards of US consular staff and suspension of airport passes will continue to be in place till such time Khobragade states the real picture.  Agencies

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