‘Khobragade’s arrest is baffling, maddening to the Indian government’

Legally complicated, says a source with ties to the Indian Embassy.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Ties between the US and India will not be as friendly as they have been in recent months if the US proceeds with its criminal case against Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, says a source with close ties to the Indian Embassy.

In an interview to The American Bazaar under the condition of anonymity, the source said that he finds it difficult to imagine that “If criminal proceedings do, in fact, proceed, it’s going to be hard to see how the Indian government [will] be willing to move on with business as usual,” he said. “They see [Khobragade], regardless of what she may have done, as a representative of their government.”

Essentially, said the source, the key determinant to US-India relations in the short term will be whether or not the charges against Khobragade are prosecuted or dropped.

“The US approach has basically been that this is US law, and therefore US legal procedures must be followed. The Indian side is saying that there are Indian laws in place which have been ignored by the US,” he said.

Right now, the two governments are working to find a solution that fits within the confines of both US law and diplomatic protocol. According to him, payment of domestic staff is part of an implied agreement between the US and India, which makes Khobragade’s arrest all the more baffling and maddening to the Indian government.

“Lawyers and diplomats on both sides are trying to find a solution [and] a way out. They’re trying to see if diplomatic immunity can be enforced and, if so, retroactively,” he said, referring to the fact the Khobragade was been shifted to the Indian Mission to the United Nations.

With no real precedent having ever occurred for a case like this, the legal and diplomatic waters become murkier. When asked if Khobragade’s arrest would have been handled different had she not been a representative of a country that was friendly with the US, the source replied “Certainly.”

“I think what has upset people the most about this is that it was done by a supposedly friendly country,” he said.

When asked if Khobragade’s arrest itself or the circumstances under which she was taken into custody had irked India more, he said, somewhat surprisingly, that it was the former.

“The circumstances of her arrest happened. They’re done, and nothing can change that. I’m not saying that it’s not an issue, but a quick phone call and an apology would more or less fix that and everyone could move on with their lives,” he said. “The arrest itself is the slightly bigger issue.”

He does not, however, envision the criminal charges being pursued by the US, and points to the strength of the partnership recently as evidence of that.

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

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