Agencies, New Delhi
India announced retaliatory measures against the United States on Wednesday, including revising work conditions of Indians employed in U.S. consulates and a freeze on duty-free alcohol, in an escalating row over the arrest of a diplomat in New York.
The move came a day after police removed security barricades from the U.S. embassy in New Delhi in reprisal against the arrest. Heavy machinery dragged away concrete barriers that restricted traffic movement around the embassy.
The dispute was triggered by the December 12 arrest of Devyani Khobragade, a deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, on charges of visa fraud and making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper, an Indian national.
India has responded furiously to what it considers the degrading treatment of a senior diplomat by the United States, a country it considers a close friend.
“It is no longer about an individual, it is about our sense of self as a nation and our place in the world,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told parliament, whose usually fractious members showed rare unity on the issue ahead of elections due to be held by May next year.
Many Indians are outraged at what they see as heavy-handed treatment of Khobragade, who her lawyer says was handcuffed in the street. The U.S. Justice Department confirmed she was then strip searched.
An Indian source close to the case said the interrogation had included a cavity search.
Khurshid said work conditions of Indians employed in U.S. consulates in major cities would be revised, to root out any violations of labour laws, and there would be a freeze on the duty free import of alcohol and food for consulate staff.
New Delhi: India will take ‘effective’ steps to restore the dignity of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested in the US last week and to bring her back to India, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said today. “The government is determined to take effective steps to ensure that the dignity of Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade is restored. “We will bring back the woman diplomat arrested in New York and restore her dignity, it is my responsibility,” Mr Khurshid said while replying to concerns expressed by members in the Rajya Sabha on the treatment meted out to the Indian diplomat in the US.