Devyani Khobragade’s return to India – the reactions and some questions

Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat in US, has been in the news in the last couple of months for not so positive reasons. Now she is expected to return to India after being indicted of visa fraud in the US and being asked to leave the country by the authorities over there. As may have been expected, this return has sparked off tremendous conflict among the legislators of the country. Their main area of problem in the whole scenario is the way that the whole affair has been handled by the powers that be. In fact the relations between India and the US have been soured to a certain extent by the way the diplomat was first arrested and then strip-searched by the US Marshals Service in New York. The Service has, however, stated that it is a normal procedure that is followed in case of any person who is arrested for the first time.


In fact, as a result of this incident a US business delegation and a couple of senior US diplomats have set back their visits to India. There have also been protests against the arrest at many places. The Indian government has restricted the benefits and advantages that are afforded to diplomats from the US and also asked the US Embassy in New Delhi to stop a club that is meant exclusively for American expatriates.


It is being said that as and when she arrives from the US she will be given a post at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New Delhi. Meanwhile according to a statement from the Indian Foreign Ministry has revealed that the disgraced diplomat has pledged that she is innocent as far as the charges of financially exploiting her nanny and her visa fraud are concerned.


Yashwant Sinha, a prominent leader with the BJP, had questioned the silence of the government in the whole matter thus criticizing its stand on the issue of such grave proportions. He stated that if he were the Foreign Minister he would have sent the US ambassador back and asked the Indian ambassador stationed over there to come back. To him the silence of the central government in this case had been beyond comprehension.


As per a government officer in US, while Washington had agreed to India’s request of handing over Khobragade to the UN, India did not provide its consent to US’ request to remove the diplomatic immunity granted to her and this ultimately led to the departure of Khobragade.


PC Chacko, a Congress leader, had stated that India has reacted to the situation in the strongest possible way and also implied that nobody can now take them for granted. Chacko described the whole situation to be an unfortunate and unprecedented one. The leader also revealed that India would not be taking matters lightly anymore, irrespective of the country in question. He maintained that India’s strong reaction had produced the desired results and expressed his happiness with the way the entire situation had panned out.


It is being expected that with the removal of Khobragade the main area of problem between both the countries has been done away with for the time being. However, it remains to be seen as to how much time will be needed before the whole matter dies down prior to the national elections that are due in May. This incident has, without, a shadow of doubt however, brought to light the tensions within the relations shared by both India and US.


Now, a few questions need to be asked in this regard:


  • If Khobragade is guilty of visa and labor crimes why is she being protected? After all, she was representing India in US and has been proven guilty, which has brought shame to the whole country. Can this situation be regarded as an instance where a government recognizes that one of its operatives is at fault and then indulges in a face saving exercise to ensure that both its prestige as well as that of its operative is intact?
  • If Khobragade has committed something as serious as a visa fraud in a country such as US, which has very strict and unflinching adherence to its rules regarding foreign nationals, then she may not have been able to do it all by herself. The question is, why are people, who may have assisted her within US, not being arrested and brought forward?