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Diplomat Devyani Khobragade row: US Embassy hosted full-scale commercial facilities

Saturday, 28 December 2013 - 10:35pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

The arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has led to the uncovering of misuse of diplomatic facilities by the US Embassy here including the hosting of full-scale commercial facilities within its compound.

After the arrest and strip-search of Khobragade in New York, India decided to firmly deal with the US diplomats on a reciprocal basis and downgrade the privileges and benefits which were given to them on a non-reciprocal basis.

The US Embassy has since long hosted full-scale commercial facilities within its compound which include the sale and service establishment that are open not only to non-US diplomats from third countries but to non-diplomatic personnel as well.

"This is a misuse of diplomatic privilege that is not extended by the US to others in their country", sources said.

There is a view in the government that US diplomats at the Embassy in New Delhi and in their Consulates in other cities in India have always enjoyed a high degree of non-reciprocal privileges and facilitation.

These include tax-free treatment of their nationals working in the American Embassy school in New Delhi, extra privileges and immunities for their consulate officials at their Consulates in Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, approvals for extra staffing, including the deputation of short-term "extra staff" for deployment in the Embassy which are usually extended repeatedly and become regular one to two year postings effectively.

There was no immediate response from the US Embassy here in this regard.

Khobragade, the 39-year-old 1999 IFS officer, was arrested in New York on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard, subjected to strip and cavity-search, which had sparked an outrage in India.

She was later released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty to the of visa fraud.

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