Mumbai, Jan.7,: Protesting in front of the U.S. consulate here, the father of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragde, Uttam Khobragade on Tuesday said the charges against his daughter were false and demanded that they should be waived off.
Khobragade was arrested on December 12 and released on a USD 250,000 bail after giving up her passport and pleading not guilty to charges of visa fraud and to making false statements about how much she was paying to her former housekeeper, also an Indian.
Uttam Khobragade, who was accompanied by several other protestors, said it was absolutely clear that all charges against his daughter were false.
“The issue is absolutely clear. Our government has tried its best, and, I am fully satisfied with their efforts. The government has proved that the charges against Devyani are false and that she had legal immunity on the day of her arrest. The government has convinced the U.S. with documents that what they have done is a violation of the Vienna Convention. It seems that the U.S. administration has no respect for the Vienna Convention. It seems the U.S. administration has no respect for womens’ rights,” said Uttam Khobragade.
Earlier today, India had firmly conveyed to the United States that there cannot be business as usual between the two countries till the Devyani Khobragade case is resolved.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is said to have conveyed this to U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell when both met at Singh’s South Block office in New Delhi on Monday.
New Delhi’s assertion assumes significance in the context of the January 13 deadline for the indictment of Khobragade on visa fraud charges in New York.
India has been demanding the withdrawal of the case against her and an apology from Washington for the treatment meted out to the 39-year-old diplomat.
Meanwhile, Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel Arshack, has according to a foreign news agency report, sought to postpone proceedings in the visa fraud case that has created tensions between the United States and India, citing the need to continue “meaningful discussions” with the prosecution.
According to the foreign news agency, Arshack has forwarded a letter to a federal magistrate judge in New York requesting for an extension of the time by which the U.S. Government must file an indictment or commence a preliminary hearing.
Arshack has asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn to extend the deadline by 30 days to February 12.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, conveyed his opposition to the extension of the deadline for charging Khobragade in the case, saying plea discussions can continue even after she is charged.
Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested on December 12 and charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper.
On the day of her arrest, she was strip-searched. The arresting authority, the U.S. Marshals Service, said the strip search was a routine procedure imposed on any new arrestee at the federal courthouse.
Khobragade was released on USD 250,000 bail. In the aftermath of her arrest, India asked to transfer Khobragade to the United Nations.
The case was adjourned until January 13 by which time the government must commence a preliminary hearing or file an indictment. (ANI)