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Devyani Khobragade case: Third instance of maids accusing Indian diplomats

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 3:07pm IST | Place: Washington, DC | Agency: PTI
The most recent case is that of India's previous Consul General here Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, who was slapped with sexual harassment accusation in 2011 by his maid Santosh Bhardwaj.

The case of Devyani Khobragade, a top Indian diplomat accused of fraud by her domestic help here, is the third instance where maids working for diplomats at the Indian Consulate General in New York have complained against their employers.

Khobragade, 39, the deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested last week and has been accused of visa fraud and for making false statements about the salary and employment terms of Sangeeta Richard, the domestic help she had got from India.

Khobragade's arrest and the charges against her have triggered a major diplomatic row between India and the US with New Delhi sternly asserting that Khobragade enjoys diplomatic immunity and expressing shock at the "barbaric" treatment meted out to her while she was detained.

However, Khobragade's case is not an isolated one and top diplomats serving at the Indian Consulate General in the city were accused of harassment and slavery by their maids.

The most recent case is that of India's previous Consul General here Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, who was slapped with sexual harassment accusation in 2011 by his maid Santosh Bhardwaj.

Dayal had rubbished the charges levelled against him saying they were "complete nonsense. These are mischievous and malicious lies." 

Bhardwaj, 45 had filed a forced labour-suit against Dayal accusing him of treating her as a slave and making sexual advances.

However, Bhardwaj had later dropped charges of sexual harassment and that she had to sleep on "a mattress on the floor in a small storage room" against the Indian envoy in an 'amended complaint.

Earlier in July 2010, a complaint was filed in a federal court by Shanti Gurung who accused diplomat Neena Malhotra and her husband Jogesh of kidnapping, trafficking her and ill-treatment.

Gurung accused the Malhotras of harassment and "slavery".

A US Magistrate Judge had later recommended that Gurung be awarded USD 1.5 million in compensation by the Malhotras.

However the Delhi High Court had restrained Gurung from pursuing her lawsuit in the US.

The Delhi court had also accepted the argument that Neena is a diplomat in the services of the Government of India and was sent in official capacity to the US and thus enjoys Sovereign immunity.


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