India sets up special group on Khobragade case

New Delhi, Dec 29: With India determined not to relent on its demand for the US to formally apologise on the handcuffing and strip-search of its envoy Devyani Khobragade, a special group of experts, including in international law, would be meeting on Monday to discuss the case.

The US has been quiet on the matter for the past few days on account of most senior officials going on end-of-year leave for Christmas and New Year.

The meeting of the group of experts, set up by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, is indicative of India’s firm resolve to pursue the matter to the end, said sources.

The group would comprise of experts in international law, finance, human resource, and international organisations, among others. They would follow up on all Khobragade related developments.

The group would also scrutinise the information on the wages being paid by US diplomats in India to their Indian staff to see if was on par with the US standards.

Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested for alleged visa fraud and underpaying her nanny, Sangeeta Richard – charges she has denied. Khobragade was handcuffed and strip-searched, a development which has caused outrage in India.

India has demanded that the US take back charges against Khobragade and tender an apology.

While the US maintained that she was a consular official and not under diplomatic immunity, India has said Khobragade was concurrently an advisor to India’s Permanent Mission at the UN from April this year, which gave her full diplomatic immunity.

India has sought details from the US embassy and its consulates on the number of Indian staff on their rolls and the wages paid to them.

India has already withdrawn the airport passes given to US diplomats in India and the special diplomatic identity cards issued to them as part of reciprocal measures after the arrest of the envoy.

IANS