Politics

Dominos restaurant ransacked near Mumbai; State Dept. refuses to budge on Khobragade issue

US refuses to drop charges against diplomat; Kerry to call Khurshid.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: A Dominos pizza restaurant just outside of Mumbai was ransacked on Friday, a deliberate protest by some Indians against the treatment of the Deputy Consul General of India in New York, Devyani Khobragade, even as the State Department here stayed firm on their decision to not drop charges against the diplomat despite her being moved to the Indian Mission at the United Nations to try give her fuller diplomatic immunity.

Owners of the Dominos franchise which was attacked, and police responders at the scene, said that no one was killed or injured in the attack. In response to the Dominos attack, Mumbai police have said that they will ramp up security at all American-branded franchise restaurants in the area, most notably McDonalds, which has a large presence throughout the country.

The attack on such a clearly American icon shows that Indians are frustrated with the diplomatic situation between the two nations. Although US Secretary of State John Kerry has publically expressed his regret at how Khobragade’s arrest was handled, the rest of the US government doesn’t seem to be wavering in its hard-lined stance against her and her crimes.

Earlier today, the Department of State stated emphatically that it will not be dropping the charges against Khobragade. The statement, which apparently came just hours after US and Indian officials discussed possible steps towards a resolution, said that there would be no apology to India and that Khobragade was well aware of the offenses she was committing, so therefore deserves little sympathy.

“For anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status. But it doesn’t retroactively wipe out past discretions,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on India shifting Khobragade to UN Mission in New York.

“Receiving diplomatic immunity does not nullify any previously existing criminal charges. Those remain on the books. Nor does obtaining diplomatic immunity protect the diplomat from prosecution indefinitely. It relates to the status of a diplomat’s current status for the length of the time of that status,” Psaki said.

“When immunity is conferred, it does not retroactively take effect at a previous point in time but relates solely to the diplomat’s current status. So, I think some of the confusion here has been if there is a change in status, does that mean that there is a clean slate from past charges. There’s not,” Paski said.

The only positive news for India on the issue was the State Department also saying that the Secretary of State John Kerry plans to call India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid soon to discuss the issue of Khobragade’s arrest.

Kerry had earlier expressed his “regret” at the way Khobragade was treated after her arrest, including being strip searched.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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