India heaves a sigh of relief.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Devyani Khobragade scored a small victory in her ongoing diplomatic saga when her husband, Aakash Singh Rathore, was offered and subsequently accepted a job to teach at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, thus reuniting Khobragade with her husband and two young children.
Khobragade’s family has been staying at the India’s Permanent Mission to the UN building, for which Khobragade was accredited and given diplomatic immunity from her charges (which has since been revoked by the State Department). Now, Rathore will be abdicating his current teaching position at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and coming to New Delhi.
Both Rathore and the couple’s two children are US citizens, and therefore stayed back in the States even after Khobragade left in January when she was formally indicted on charges of visa fraud and making false statements regarding a housemaid, Sangeeta Richard, who the US government alleges was underpaid by the former DCP.
Having Khobragade back in New Delhi but the rest of her family still in New York had put the Indian government between a rock and a hard place. New Delhi was reticent to request that the rest of the family follow Khobragade back to India out of concern that her father, retired IAS officer Uttam Khobragade, would have created a furor and re-started US-India tensions regarding the case.
Additionally, a security issue was raised by the fact that Rathore and the two children were technically US citizens – both Khobragade and her husband elected to have the children declared as citizens of the US rather than India and were staying in an Indian consular building, where top-secret documents and sensitive information is kept.
Now, the three will be leaving within the next two weeks, ending their technically unauthorized stay in the UN Mission building and allowing both New Delhi and New York to breathe a sigh of relief. But the case is still not over, as Washington is not dropping its charges against Khobragade despite repeated pleas from India and the UN endorsement of Khobragade’s diplomatic status at the time of her arrest.
Meanwhile, Khobragade’s father has said that his son-in-law is evaluating offers of employment from both JNU and Delhi University, where he has previously been on faculty.
Rathore is currently a professor of philosophy and oenology (the study of wines), and in addition to Rutgers, also teaches in a visiting capacity at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from Louvain and in Comparative Constitutional Law from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He has taught at the University of Delhi, Humboldt University, and Louvain, a French-speaking university in Belgium.
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