BJP accuses US of high handedness, demands strong action

New Delhi, Dec 17: The BJP Tuesday termed the US action against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade as “high handedness” and “misbehaviour” and demanded the government take strong action.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh condemned the US action.

“We condemn the ‘high handedness of the US authorities’ who misbehaved with an Indian diplomat. The government should take strong exception and action,” he tweeted.

India’s deputy consul general in New York Devyani Khobragade, who has been charged by US authorities with visa fraud, was strip searched, handcuffed, confined to a cell with drug addicts, and also subjected to DNA swabbing – evoking widespread outrage in India.

Party leader Arun Jaitley said the US “unilateralism” in narrowing down the scope of diplomatic immunity should not be accepted by India.

In a post on his website, he said that diplomacy operates on the principle of reciprocity and accused the United Progressive Alliance government of being soft when the US denied visa to Narendra Modi, who is now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

“This has given to the Americans a signal that they can act unilaterally without attracting an adverse reaction from India,” he said, adding the case was a pointer that India must now and in future act on the principle of reciprocity.

Jaitley noted that Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provides that consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.

The convention clearly states that consular officers shall not be sent to prison or be liable to any other form of restriction on their personal freedom unless there was a judicial verdict, he said.

He said the convention states that if criminal proceedings are instituted against a consular officer, they must appear before the competent authorities but proceedings shall be conducted with due respect.

“Even though the covenants of the Vienna conventions are clear with regard to the extent of immunity available to a foreign diplomats and consular officials, the US State Department has displayed scant regard for the established conventions,” he alleged.

He said the treatment to Khobragade after her arrest – her search, keeping her with hardened criminals – “displays the cavalier manner in which the Americans are treating this issue”.

IANS