Thursday, December 19, 2013

Khurshid tells RS govt demanded details of Indians employed with US mission Mayawati reveals Devyani’s Scheduled Caste identity

New Delhi: Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid explained in detail the background to the arrest of India’s deputy consul-general Devyani Khorbagade to agitated and enraged members of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. He said that this was an instance of “conspiracy” on the part of the maid who worked with Devyani and then disappeared. The Indian mission filed a police complaint against her but that the US authorities, either in Delhi or in the US did not cooperate. When a Delhi metropolitan magistrate issued a non-bailable arrest, the US authorities instead of tracking down the maid took action against Devyani.

He said that the Diplomatic Security Service had arrested Devyani on Dec 12 and handed over to the marshals of the New York Police Department. He said that bail has now been obtained, and that trial proceedings have begun.

Revealing the response of the government he said that there are two Vienna conventions, one dealing with diplomats and the other with those in consular establishment, and that these will be reviewed. He also said that all the US consulates located in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, have been asked the “Consular identity cards issued by the State Protocol may be withdrawn and reverted to the MEA Protocol for review and processing no later than 23rd December, 2013.

All current airport passes made available to the U.S. Consulates may be turned in to the State Protocol latest by 19 th December, 2013.” He said that the government has sought information and relevant papers of all the Indians employed at the US establishments in the country, including the domestic helps, along with their contract details and PAN cards.

And also, “the State Protocol to take no further action on applications for various clearances, approvals relating to issue of identity cards, clearances of personal effects, sales, purchases of cars, exemption certificates for duty-free import of liquor, food, etc. I don’t think this has ever been done in this country in the past.”

Khurshid also told the House that the government’s priority was to ensure the ‘safety and dignity’ of the Indian officer and it will be done. He said he took up the issue with the Congressional delegation and the members, though they had no connection with incident, had been sensitive in their response.

Speaking on the issue, Leader of Opposition and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley pointed out that apart from violation of Vienna Convention, there was also the issue of India’s soft stance which led to India being taken for granted. He said while many countries in the world protested against American snooping, and heads of state had even cancelled their visits, India remained silent.

In an indirect reference to the denial of visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government even nudging the US authorities, he said that the kind of that that has happened to Devyani was bound to happen.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati said that the weaker sections, especially the Scheduled Castes because Devyani belonged to Scheduled Caste were angry with the central government. She taunted the government that if the officer blonged to a higher caste then the reaction and response would have been swifter. She said that the prime minister should have talked to the US government instead of removing security for the US embassy in Delhi. And that the problem could have been solved.

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