News East West
NEW YORK: A day after the arrest of the Indian deputy consul general in New York, Ms Devyani Khobragade, on charges of using fake documents and making false statement to get US visa for a domestic servant, India on Friday reacted angrily to the US action calling “absolutely unacceptable.”
Ms. Khobragade, 37, who looks after Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the Indian Consulate General, has been charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statement for which she can be jailed for a maximum of 10 years and five years respectively. She was later released on a bond of $250,000.
“There is no justification to what has happened to a young Indian woman diplomat, who had gone to drop her kids to school. We are shocked and appalled at the humiliation and have taken it up forcefully,” said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. “We have told them, in no uncertain terms, this is absolutely unacceptable.” Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, who met with US ambassador Nancy Powell in her South Block office, told her about India’s anger over the arrest.
According to US attorney Preet Bharara in New York, Ms Khobragade presented fraudulent documents and made false statements to the US Department of State to get visa for an Indian national whom she employed at her home in New York.
“The false statements and fraud alleged to have occurred here were designed to circumvent those protections so that a visa would issue for a domestic worker who was promised far less than a fair wage. This type of fraud on the United States and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated, ‘’ Bharara said.
He said, “Foreign nationals brought to the US to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to US citizens.’’
While submitting the visa application for the domestic servant, Ms Khobragade had stated that as per the employment contract the Indian worker will be paid $4,500 per month (or $9.75 per hour)
But before signing the employment agreement, Ms Khobragade and the domestic servant allegedly agreed that she will pay the domestic servant only Rs 30,000 per month (40 hours). Which works out to be $3.31 per hour only.
In New Delhi, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) reacted angrily to the arrest, calling it unacceptable. It summoned US ambassador Nancy Powell to convey its displeasure over the arrest. The Indian government is taking up the matter with US officials at the highest level.