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‘Khobragade was part of India’s UN mission when arrested’


New Delhi, Dec 26:

Devyani Khobragade, Indian diplomat
Devyani Khobragade, Indian diplomat

Making a strong case to fight the US over the handcuffing and strip-search of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, sources said Thursday that at the time of her arrest, she was concurrently accredited to India’s Permanent Mission in the UN as advisor and therefore enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

The revelation of Khobragade’s UN status comes as it was also revealed that the office of Manhattan’s India-born prosecutor Preet Bharara may have goofed up in reading Khobragade’s salary of $4,500 as the amount she would be paying her domestic help, Sangeeta Richard.

According to sources, Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was accredited as an “Advisor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations” by the UN on Aug 26, 2013. Her status as advisor was valid until Dec 31, 2013, sources said.

According to the sources, the UN accreditation provides immunity “from personal arrest or detention and from the seizure of their personal baggage”.

“Her arrest, therefore, on Dec 12 was contrary to her status on that date,” a source said.

Khobragade was accredited as advisor to India’s Permanent Mission at the UN for the UN General Assembly, said the source, adding that the duration of an advisor is for short period.

India has applied for accreditation of Khobragade as delegate to the New York-based UN mission.

Khobragade has been charged with visa fraud and underpaying her nanny, which she has denied.

India has voiced outrage over the handcuffing and strip-search of its diplomat.