The State Department says it informed the Indian embassy in Washington, DC in Deptember about the troubles that awaited diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested on the charges of alleged fraud in New York on December 12.
A media statement issued by M Sridharan, the Counsellor (Press, Information and Culture), at the embassy clarifies the sequence of events. Produced verbatim:
The Embassy of India, Washington DC and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi have been taking up the matter of Dr Devyani Khobragade's domestic assistant Ms Sangeeta Richard from June 2013 with the US State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi.
The Embassy of India received the State Department's letter dated September 4, 2013, which requested the Embassy to enquire into the allegations brought in by Ms Richard disputing her terms of employment with Dr Khobragade and seeking the findings of the Embassy.
In response, the Indian side, both in New Delhi and in Washington DC, reiterated the requests pending with the US side in this regard since June 2013 including the following:
- Assistance in tracing Dr Khobragade's domestic assistant Ms Sangeeta Richard, an Indian citizen who entered the US with an Official Passport of the Government of India, who was found missing on June 23, 2013. This was reported immediately to the Office of the Foreign Missions in New York and NYPD.
- Action against blackmailing by Ms Richard, demanding that she be permitted to change her passport, visa status and to work elsewhere, which would be in violation of US regulations.
- Assistance in repatriating Ms Richard as her passport was revoked on July 8, 2013 and is since staying in the US illegally.
- Arresting of Ms Richard who has taken cash, mobile phone and documents from the residence of Dr Khobragade.
On October 8, a written response was sent by the Indian Embassy to the State Department rebutting the allegation and bringing out the facts of the case whereby Ms Richard is seeking to subvert both Indian and US laws.
The US side was also requested to assist in implementing an injunction issued on September 20, 2013 by the Delhi high court against Ms Richard restraining from initiating any legal action against Dr Khobragade outside India.
Separately, on July 15, 2013, Mr Philip Richard, husband of Ms Sangeeta Richard, filed a Writ Petition against Dr Khobragade and the Union of India, alleging that Ms Sangeeta Richard was in police custody in New York and charging Dr Khobragade. On July 19, 2013, Mr Richard voluntarily withdrew his Writ Petition.
In view of the above, the State Department was requested to assist in locating and repatriating Ms Richard to India.
On November 19, the Metropolitan Magistrate of South District, New Delhi, issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Ms Richard.
On December 6, the arrest warrant was forwarded to the State Department and to the US Embassy in New Delhi requesting them to instruct the relevant authorities in the US to arrest and repatriate Ms Richard to India through our Consulate in New York.
No response was received from the US side for any of these communications.
On December 12, 2013, Dr Khobragade was arrested.
Image: Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat at the centre of the storm. Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com