India has asked the United States embassy in New Delhi to stop all commercial activities and close a club on its premises by January 16, in continuing retaliatory action against the arrest of its diplomat in New York.
Reports, quoting Indian officials, on Wednesday said that the US has also been informed that all cars used by its diplomats would be subject to local laws and will be penalised like any car that violates rules.
The embassy has been told to shut down the American Support Community Association (ASCA) club within the premises. The association was managing a bar cum restaurant, video club, swimming pool, sports arena, bowling alley, gym and a beauty parlour.
Those with ASCA memberships were allowed a bottle of hard liquor, two bottles of wine and 12 cans of beer a week at duty-free prices much lower than the market rate, according to the Hindustan Times newspaper.
The ACSA members would also get access to restaurants and bars in Delhi including the Out of India restaurant, Delhi Diner Snacks Bar, the Great Escape Bar, Windward Café Poolside Bar and a cafeteria on payable basis, the newspaper reported.
The latest move to shut down ACSA comes as part of a decision by the Indian government to pare down the diplomatic privileges enjoyed by US personnel in India and bring them on par with that enjoyed by Indian diplomats in the US.
No business as usual
The measures follow the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on December 12. What outraged New Delhi was the rough treatment meted out to Khobragade which included handcuffing, strip-search and being lodged with drug addicts.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh on Monday told US Ambassador Nancy Powell that it cannot be “business as usual” between the two sides till the issue is resolved, reports said.
Earlier, US diplomats in India were asked to return their identity cards that enabled them special privileges. They were also divested of airport passes and import clearances.
Besides these, special security barriers were removed outside the US embassy in New Delhi.
India argues that the arrest and detention of Khobragade, though brief, was against the Vienna convention. It has sought an apology from the US. On its part, the US is going ahead with the legal proceedings, including the indictment hearing of Khobragade, while simultaneously talking with Indian officials to resolve the issue amicably.