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Indian diplomat’s arrest deplorable: PM


New Delhi, Dec 18:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday described the arrest of Indian diplomat in the US Devyani Khobragade as “deplorable” after both houses of parliament condemned the incident.

“It is deplorable,” the prime minister told reporters outside the parliament.

Both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha members condemned the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
Earlier, speaking in the Rajya Sabha after a brief discussion on the issue, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid assured the House that Khobragade will be brought back to India and her dignity will be restored. He was responding to the concern of members who expressed outrage over her arrest and humiliation in the US.

“We will bring back the woman diplomat arrested in New York and restore her dignity. It is my responsibility,” Khurshid said.

“We strongly condemn the treatment meted out to the Indian diplomat in New York. India is not over-reacting to the treatment of its diplomat by US. The nation must speak in one voice,” he said.

The issue was raised by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, who called for a review of India’s foreign policy. Commerce Minister Anand Sharma described it as a “national outrage” and said the government has taken a stern view of it.

Jaitley said it was time India insisted on being treated like equals. “If we conduct foreign policy in a manner that we’re taken for granted, then these incidents will be repeated.” “We need to introspect where we stand on foreign policy,” he said, adding that the retaliatory measures India has taken needed to be continued.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said the government should take up the case seriously as the diplomat was a Dalit. She accused New Delhi of waking up late.

Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Sitaram Yechury said: “There have been cabinet members in the NDA and UPA governments who have been subjected to such (treatment).” “This cannot be accepted by any sovereign nation… The attitude needs to change.”

Trinamool Congress member Derek O’Brien targeted the US: “We live in a global village but we don’t need a self-appointed global village headman. It is time now to codify all privileges India provides to US diplomats and the privileges our diplomats receive in the US.”

DMK’s Kanimozhi complained that time and again Indian leaders have been mistreated in the US.

On his part, Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said India seemed to suffer from an inferiority complex, which, he felt, “is very sad”.

The demand for discussing the issue was raised as soon as the upper house met. Chairman M. Hamid Ansari adjourned the house for 15 minutes and consulted all party leaders before the debate was taken up.
Meanwhile, a leading advocacy organisation representing over three million Indian Americans in the US has strongly condemned the arrest procedures of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, IANS adds from Washington.

The US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) said it found the comments of State Department spokesperson Marie Harf justifying her strip-search as “particularly offensive”.

It also quoted its chairperson Sanjay Puri as saying they were making enquiries about the arrest procedures of Khobragade and that concurred with the general sentiments of members “that failure in diplomatic protocol can cause irreversible damage to US-India relations”.

In a statement Tuesday, the USINPAC that works on issues that concern the community, said it “strongly condemns the arrest procedures undertaken by the US Marshal Service and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Officials in last week’s arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul general of India, in New York City”.

However, Puri urged diplomatic and political restraint both in India and in the US while a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arrest is underway.

India has termed the treatment meted out to the diplomat as “absolutely unacceptable”.

Khobragade was charged last week with visa fraud and making false statements.