We present Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbrauddin’s full response to the statement issued by US Attorney Preet Bharara on the ongoing diplomatic tussle over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s arrest:
“We have seen the statement issued by the Manhattan US attorney on December 18.
“We need to keep in mind the simple fact that there is only one victim in this case. That victim is Devyani Khobragade -- a serving Indian diplomat on mission in the United States.
“The action taken against her was not in keeping with the Vienna Convention. There were no courtesies in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat, under the normal definition of that word in the English language.
“The statement includes remarks about equality before the law of both the rich and the poor. Not only is this a rhetorical remark that is not conducive to resolving "inaccuracies", it is also not a feature of the law that is exclusive to the office of the Manhattan US attorney.
“The statement in question acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India. Yet, incredibly, it invites speculation about why it was necessary to evacuate the family of Ms Richards and about the action purportedly being taken against them. The implication of this remarkable admission needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes about the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities, and the responsibility that legal officials of a foreign government seem to arrogate upon themselves with regard to the nationals of another country. It needs to be asked what right a foreign government has to "evacuate" Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system.
“The statement underlines the compulsion that is felt by the Manhattan US attorney's office "to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending."
“This is precisely why, when there is a prior legal process already underway in India, the Manhattan US attorney should consider it obligatory to enable justice to take its course in India in the first instance. When the legal process in another friendly and democratic country is interfered with in this manner, it not only amounts to interference but also raises the serious concern of calling into question the very legal system of that country.
“It is our considered view that this statement is one more attempt at a post facto rationalization for an action that should never have taken place in the first instance."
Image: Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade during a function at the Indian consulate in New York
Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com