Thaw in India-US stand-off over Devyani Khobragade issue
The senior diplomat’s exempted from appearing in US court over visa fraud charges; receives accreditation to UN giving her full diplomatic immunity
New Delhi: First signs that India and the US may be moving towards a resolution of the stand-off over senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s issue emerged on Monday after she got exemption from personal appearance in a New York Court hearing visa fraud case against her even as she got her accreditation to the UN headquarters.
Khobragade, who was arrested on 12 December in New York, had been transferred by the government to its mission to the United Nations with a view to giving her full diplomatic immunity.
Her accreditation is expected to be followed by some paperwork at the US state department for which India has already submitted the papers.
Simultaneously, her exemption from personal appearance in the court is a significant step towards a way out of the stand-off created by her arrest and strip search which had evoked a sharp reaction from Indian government, which has been pressing the US to drop the charges against her unconditionally.
According to sources, Khobragade’s lawyer had requested to court to exempt the envoy from appearing personally in the case and also postponement of the pre-trial and final trial dates much before she was transferred to the UN. The next date of hearing in the case in New York is scheduled for 13 January.
Khobragade (39), a 1999-batch IFS officer posted as deputy consul general in New York, was taken into custody on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.
The US Embassy in New Delhi, meanwhile, has sought extension of Monday’s deadline for filing the visa and other key details of the Indians employed by it and its officers. This information includes salary being paid to domestic help employed by US diplomats in India.
Asked whether the deadline has been extended or not, official sources said “a decision will be taken tomorrow (on Tuesday) after correlating whatever the government has received so far.”
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