Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was arrested on December 12, 2013 on charges of visa fraud by United States. 39-year-old Khobragade was posted at India's deputy consul general in the Consulate General of India in New York. The arrest followed by mistreatment of the Indian diplomat by law enforcement officials in US led to a diplomatic tangle between India and the US.
Devyani Khobragade case seems to be in favor of Khobragade and against Sangeeta Richard, who went and complained against her employer in US. But what is the real story in this high-profile case involving a diplomat and her maid. Who is the victim? In the previous part of this story Andhrawishesh tried to see the story from Devyani Khobragade's point of view. This part tries to take into consideration Sangeeta Richards' story and proceed further with the developments.
Phillip Richard, Sangeeta's husband, had filed a case against Khobragade in India alleging that his wife was harassed and worked like a slave in the diplomat's household in New York. However, Richard's petition, filed in July, was dismissed by the Delhi High Court as the alleged offence took place outside India.
The petition stated that Sangeeta worked from 6 am to 11 pm and even on Sundays, which according to the contract was meant to be her weekly off day. On Sundays she just got two hours off for attending the church. He further stated in the petition that Sangeeta was falsely accused of theft and also alleged that Uttam Khobragade, Devyani's father, had threatened action against the Richards in India. The petition also alleged that Devyani had taken the passport of Sangeeta and kept it with herself upon her arrival in the US in 2012.
In July Sangeeta left Khobragade's home to buy groceries, but never came back. Following which Devyani tried to file a complaint regarding Sangeeta missing from her household but failed. The New York Police Department informed her that only her immediate family members can file a missing person complaint.
According to Devyani, in July Sangeeta gave threat calls to her which she reported to both NYPD and the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM). The Indian diplomat even filed a complaint of harassment and blackmail with Delhi Police against Richard and her husband following a meeting that Devyani had with Sangeeta in New York. Richard had reportedly threatened Khobragade at the meeting. In fact, the Delhi high court in September passed an interim order that lay restriction on Richards regarding filing of any complaint against her employer in a foreign court.
Coming back to Devyani Kohbragade again-
In order to understand the case some enlightenment on the Indian diplomat about her background is important.
Khobragade is former IAS officer Uttam Khobragade's daughter, who was born and grew up in Mumbai. She studied at Mount Carmel School and pursued MBBS thereafter from Seth GS medical college and KEM hospital in Mumbai. Khobragade didn't take up medicine as a profession; instead she cracked the UPSC in 1999 and joined Indian Foreign Service. Devyani has worked all over the world in various Indian missions like Pakistan, Italy and Germany and before the arrest she was posted at Consulate General of India in New York. Khobragade's uncle, Dr Ajay M Gondane is a 1985 batch IFS officer.
Devyani Khobragade is married to a philosophy professor and has two daughters who are three and six years old. The Indian diplomat is a well-known voice on dalit women's rights issue. Apparently, in April 2013, Devyani spoke on 'Women's Rights and the Influence of Demographics in India' at the Australian Consulate in Manhattan. Khobragade was selected for the Chevening Rolls-Royce scholarship in 2012. She is proficient in English, Hindi, Marathi and Germann language.
The mid-level Indian diplomat was on December 11, 2013 charged of visa fraud and giving false statements for gaining A-3 visa for Sangeeta Richards, who was meant to work in her household as a domestic worker in New York.
On December 12, 2013 Khobragade was arrested by U.S. Department of State Police and the United States Marshal Service when she had gone to drop her kids to school. She alleged that she was handcuffed upon arrest and later went through strip search and cavity search like hardcore criminals, and later kept in a cell with drug addicts. The whole episode led to an uproar in India and culminated into a major diplomatic impasse between India and the United States. There was an outcry over her mistreatment in India.
What happened with Devyani Khobragade and whether she was at fault is something that needs deeper analysis. Follow the next part of the story to understand the case better.
(AW: Pratima Tigga)
Related Article:- Some Unanswered Questions In Devyani's Story - Part 1
Related Article:- Some Unanswered Questions In Devyani's Story - Part III