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ഡോ. ദേവയാനി ഇന്ത്യയിലേക്കു മടങ്ങി

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Story Dated: Thursday, January 09, 2014 11:14 hrs UTC

 

ഡോ ദേവയാനി ഇന്ത്യയിലേയ്ക്ക് മടങ്ങിയെന്ന് പ്രോസിക്യുട്ടേഴ്സ് അറിയിച്ചു.

 

In a note sent to a New York court  US attorney Preet Bharara said, “We understand that the defendant was very recently accorded diplomatic immunity status and that she departed the United States today.

“Therefore, the charges will remain pending until such time as she can be brought to Court to face the charges, either through a waiver of immunity or the defendant’s return to the United States in a non-immune status.”

“We will alert the Court promptly if we learn that the defendant returns to the United States in a non-immune capacity, at which time the Government will proceed to prosecute this case and prove the charges in the Indictment,” he added.

His office later issued a correction saying she had not left the US: “This Office had been advised by the State Department that, pursuant to their request, Devyani Khobragade was to have left the United States this afternoon.  In a letter sent to the Court upon the filing of the Indictment of Ms. Khobragade, we stated our understanding that she had left the country.  Subsequent to the filing of the letter, Ms. Khobragade’s lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the U.S.”

The sequence of events and the picture remained unclear -- if she was leaving because she has been asked to leave, as said later by Bharara’s office, or because she has been granted full diplomatic immunity, with her G-1 visa, which would let her leave the country.

Bharara’s office has said, citing Khobrgade’s lawyer Dan Arshack, she had not left the US yet. Her lawyer couldn’t be contacted.

But this should hopefully bring to an end a crisis in relations between India and the US starting December 12, when Khobragade was arrested in New York, and strip-searched.

She was charged with paying her housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard, less than the diplomat had undertaken to pay her during the visa process, according to US laws.

At the time of arrest, Khobragade had limited immunity, covering only her actions in line of her duties as a consular officer with the Indian consulate in New York.

Her consular immunity, US government argued at the time of her arrest, did not protect her from local laws. She was arrested by the state department’s bureau of diplomatic security.

The Indian government immediately transferred her to its permanent mission to India, whose staff are all covered by full diplomatic immunity from local laws.

A critical part the transfer process was the US, which as the host nation of the UN, grants the relevant visa, which is G-1, which was applied for on Khobragade’s behalf on December 20.

There was no indication till Bharara’s note that Khobragade had indeed been granted a visa -- the state department spokesperson said on Wednesday there was no progress.

But there was progress, it is now known, out of public view, even as India kept cranking up pressure on the US through retaliatory actions, canceling energy dialogue most recently.

New Delhi earlier withdrew from US diplomats posted in India all privileges not extended to Indian diplomats in the US, and removed security barriers from outside the embassy.

As India ratcheted up the pressure secretary of state John Kerry called national security adviser Shivshankar Menon to express regret, which India said will not suffice.

New Delhi, and Khobragade, also wanted the case against her dropped, which the US government refused to d, but initiated plea bargain talks with her.

With the indictment deadline of January 13 (30 days from arrest) looming, a sense of urgency and panic had gripped India with no sign of her G-1 visa, and its promise of full immunity.

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