Amid a relentless Indian diplomatic offensive, the United States has started an internal review of the circumstances that led to the arrest of New Delhi diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
According to reports, quoting agencies on Monday, Washington is reviewing the actions of the National Security Council of the White House, the State Department and the Justice Department.
“An inter-agency review is going on right now to look into the lapses that happened in the case,” said news agency Press Trust of India, quoting sources in Washington.
The move is being interpreted as an acknowledgement by the US that there was a judgemental error in handling the Khobragade case. Further, the review is under process round –the-clock with a view to resolving it as soon as possible, reports said.
The only hitch could be the US judiciary but officials in Washington are reportedly handling this with the Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York.
Within the US, the Department of Defense has reportedly expressed its unhappiness over the entire issue. This is because the US and India are involved in an unprecedented level of defence cooperation with New Delhi turning out to be a key player in Washington’s defence perception in the South Asian region.
Pentagon officials are reportedly worried that the Khobragade issue could dent the defence cooperation.
Agencies also quoted officials in the US as saying that they did not expect such a strong and unprecedented Indian reaction. “We have taken a hit. We will have to face the consequences,” the news agency PTI said, quoting an administration official.
Displeasure at US embassy
Meanwhile, the Indian government has expressed displeasure over the role played by the US embassy in the diplomat arrest episode.
Government officials have reportedly said that the US embassy was fully in the know about the procedure in which domestic helps were allowed to go to the US in the diplomat’s retinue. Despite this, the US embassy never informed the US law enforcement agencies about the procedures that would have avoided the arrest and the subsequent tensions.
Acting on its anger, the Indian government has objected to officials in the US embassy misusing their free import clearances and accused a section of them of illegally re-selling them to their Indian contacts and friends.
The free imports have been frozen for the last few days as part of retaliatory measures following Khobragade’s arrest.
The Indian diplomat was arrested briefly on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her nanny Sangeeta Richard.
More than the arrest, what angered India was the manner in which she was arrested – involving handcuffing, strip-search and being lodged along with drug addicts.