New Delhi and Washington are in the midst of an unprecedented diplomatic row, triggered by the arrest of an Indian envoy in New York.
Devyani Khobragade, the Indian deputy consul-general, was arrested, handcuffed, stripped-searched and then briefly lodged in a cell with drug addicts in New York, on charges that she underpaid her Indian nanny and lied in her visa application – mentioning a much higher wage than she actually paid her.
Reports say Khobragade was required to pay Sangeetha Richards, the nanny, a minimum wage of $4,500 per month under US rules. Incidentally, the Indian government says Khobragade’s own salary as a government official was about $4,100.
The Indian government has reacted with fury at the official’s “public humiliation”. While members of Indian parliament vented their anger, police removed security barricades at the US embassy in New Delhi and curtailed several privileges extended to US staff in India – including free access at airports.
New Delhi says the US acted against Khobragade, ignoring court proceedings pending against the nanny in an Indian court.
India is demanding an unconditional apology from the US. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has offered regret.
But emotions are still running high and relations betweent the two global powers have hit a new low.
Al Jazeera has pieced together the sequence of events, that led to the current impasse:
July 1: The diplomat gets call from an unknown person saying Richards won’t go to court if she is freed from Khobragade’s employ and gets compensation.
July 2: Khobragade informs Indian officials and the New York police about phone call.
July 5: The diplomat follows up by filing a complaint with the New York police against Richards accusing her of theft, extortion and blackmail. Simultaneously, Khobragade files a complaint with the Delhi police against Richards and her husband Philip (who was in Delhi)
July 8: Khobragade called to immigration lawyer’s office in New York where she is asked to settle with Richards. The terms of settlement are the diplomat has to pay up $10,000 to her maid, help the maid get a normal Indian passport (against the official one she has at the time) and assist her in getting a US visa so she can settle in that country. India cancels Richards’s passport.
July 30: Nanny’s husband says she is in custody of New York police department. Indian authorities ask her to be produced in New York consulate, but Richards does not make an appearance
September 4: US state department writes to Indian ambassador saying it is concerned about Richards’ situation
September 21: Indian embassy tells US authorities not to interfere in Richards’s matter, as according to it, she is attempting a monetary settlement and a US visa – which contravene laws in both the countries