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Ministry of External Affairs refutes US attorney Preet Bharara's statement on Devyani Khobragade being extended courtesies

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 9:13pm IST Updated: Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 9:14pm IST | Agency: ANI

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday rebutted claims made by United States attorney Preet Bharara that courtesies were extended to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade while she was being arrested last week on alleged charges of committing visa fraud.

MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that the action taken against Khobragade was not in keeping with the Vienna Conventions governing diplomats.

"No courtesies were provided in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat. We have seen the statement issued by the Manhattan US attorney, and we need to keep in mind that there is only one victim in this case, Devyani Khobragade," said Akbaruddin.

"The action taken against her was not in keeping with the Vienna Conventions. They were no courtesies in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat. The statement includes remarks about equality before the law of both the poor and the rich. Not only is this a rhetorical remark that is not conducive to resolving inaccuracies, it is also not a feature that is exclusive to the office of the Manhattan US attorney," he added.

The spokesman of the MEA also pointed out that the Visa to the United States was accorded to the family of Ms Richards even though legal proceedings were underway in India. Akbaruddin pointed out that the United States had no right to comment on the Indian legal system.

"The statement in question acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India. Yet, it raises speculation as to 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," Akbaruddin said.

He said that the United States does not have the right to comment on the Indian legal system and Indian law enforcement authorities.

"What right does a foreign government have 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 to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending against them. This is 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 a serious concern of calling into question the legal system of the country," Akbaruddin said.

Akbaruddin was responding to Bharara's earlier claim that Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was "accorded courtesies" and not handcuffed when she was arrested.

Media reports quoted sources in the MEA as saying that Bharara's claims were mere allegations, and that nothing has been proved as yet on any wrong being committed by Khobragade vis-a-viz her former maid Sangeetha Richards.

Sources in the MEA are being quoted by media television channels, as saying that the Indian Government is hardening its stance on the issue, and is demanding nothing short of an apology from the US. Government and a dropping of the case against Khobragade.

Bharara claimed there has been "misinformation and factual inaccuracy" in the reporting on the Khobragade case which is "creating an inflammatory atmosphere." between the United States and India.

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