India is offended by the 'barbaric' arrest of its diplomat in New York

Dehli embassy.jpg

A bulldozer removes the security barriers in front of the US Embassy in New Delhi, December 17, 2013, in a move seen as retaliation for the arrest of an Indian diplomat in the US.


REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

It seems the US and India are in a game of diplomatic tit-for-tat. 

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First, there was the arrest of India's deputy consul general in New York last week. Federal prosecutors accuse the diplomat of submitting false documents to obtain a visa for her Manhattan housekeeper and then paying the housekeeper less than minimum wage.

India's national security advisor called the arrest and alleged strip-search of the diplomat as "despicable and barbaric." Now, India has removed the concrete safety barricades near the US Embassy in New Delhi.

“There has been no official confirmation why the barriers were removed,” says Reuters correspondent Frank Jack Daniel in New Delhi, “but the understanding is the removal is part of some kind of retaliation.”

There are other measures, too, says Daniel. “Some privileges for US diplomats were withdrawn, including the use of lounges at airports, for instance.”

The diplomat at the center of this dispute, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested in public when she dropped her daughter off at school and was handcuffed and handled harshly, according to Indian media reports.

"Within the government, there is a lot of outrage at the way she was treated," says Daniel. "Regardless of the merits of the case, people will say, why was she arrested in this manner and why was she subjected to a strip search? That has produced the anger."

Daniel says the United States and India have recently enjoyed quite friendly relations, after a long period of mutual distrust based on Washington’s close ties with Pakistan, a nation on fairly unfriendly terms with India.  

But after this incident, all major political parties in India are united in their outcry over this perceived insult. Daniel says the Indian government is hoping that the US will try and defuse the situation.