India awaits authorised US response, to pursue privilege issue

Ignoring assertions by unnamed US officials that the case against senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade will not be withdrawn, India today said it would continue to “seriously” pursue any misuse of diplomatic privileges by the US diplomats in India.

Dismissing reports from New York quoting US officials to say that they are going ahead with the indictment of Khobragade on charges of visa fraud, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said in “pluralistic democracy” there were many voices but the government will respond to “designated channel” which was US State Department in this case.

He said the US State Department has conveyed that a process was on to look into the entire arrest incident and India was “awaiting for an authorised response” and asserted that there was a “reflection of regret” which was conveyed both by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department.

Asked about delay in submission of details by the US Embassy about the Indian staff employed by its missions and individual US diplomats, he said, the government was still awaiting details required the Embassy, which has requested some more time in view of the holiday season.

“We are processing lot of information and variety of thoughts and make no mistake, we are serious about processing and pursuing this matter,” he said.

India’s demand for these submissions was made in the wake of the arrest and strip-search of Khobragade, the 39-year-old 1999-batch IFS officer, on December 12 on the charges of underpaying her maid.

Meanwhile, the ministry was also investigating the “leads” it has got on the misuse of diplomatic privilege in signing-off the tax exemption for the air ticket purchased to “evacuate” from here to New York the family of Khobragade’s absconding maid Sangeeta Richard.