Americans teaching in India’s International schools may soon feel strong repercussions from the arrest, strip search and jailing of India’s Deputy Consul General, Devyani Khobragade, by New York police. Mrs. Khobragade has been charged with creating false documents, falsifying a visa application and mistreating her domestic servant. She claimed to be paying her Indian maid $4200 monthly when in fact she was paying her $3.31 an hour.
The Indian government claims the manner in which the arrest was carried out is inhumane and barbaric. In response, they have revoked all diplomatic privileges for American Embassy personnel and removed protective barriers protecting the U.S. embassy. The Indian government says it will now examine what the American Embassy pays its Indian help and how much domestic help is paid by U.S. government Diplomats. It was also announced that India plans to review the salaries, bank accounts and tax status of all American teachers working in International Schools throughout the country.
In response to India’s claims of mistreatment, the U.S. Attorney’s office concurs that the diplomat was “fully searched by a female Deputy Marshal — in a private setting” It was further clarified that the search is “standard practice for every defendant, rich or poor, American or not, in order to make sure that no prisoner keeps anything on his person that could harm anyone, including himself.”
The attorney’s office reports that agents arrested Mrs. Khobragade in the most discreet way possible, and unlike most defendants she was not handcuffed. The office maintains the diplomat was extended courtesies that go well beyond what others receive, such as allowing her to sit in a squad car and use her cell phone to arrange for child care for her children. They claim to have even delivered coffee to her. A New York based organization, Safe Horizon, representing the maid, has disclosed that she is in the U.S. under ‘Continued Presence’, a temporary immigration status for victims of human trafficking.
Indian diplomats seem most incensed by the strip search procedure. In retaliation, one angry diplomat has called for the revocation of visas issued to the LGBT partners of American embassy employees, followed by a jail sentence for being in contempt of Indian law.
It appears both countries have, up-to-now, followed a policy of turning a blind eye to each others’ practices. The arrest of Deputy Council Khobragade has obviously severed that unspoken agreement.
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