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US envoy summoned to protest 'unacceptable' treatment of Indian diplomat

New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) India Friday summoned the US envoy here and conveyed its strong protest over the arrest and handcuffing of an Indian diplomat accused of visa fraud.

US Ambassador Nancy Powell was summoned to South Block by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and told that the treatment meted out to Devyani Khobragade was “absolutely unacceptable”.

Khobragade, 39, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was charged Thursday with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements, which carry maximum sentences of 10 years and five years in prison, respectively.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India was shocked and appalled at the manner in which Khobragade had been “humiliated by the US authorities”.

“This is simply not acceptable to us,” he said.

The spokesperson said the Indian diplomat was a young mother of two and was in the US in pursuance of her duties.

Khobragade, one of India’s senior diplomats in New York, was arrested and accused by Manhattan’s Indian American US Attorney Preet Bharara of visa fraud and exploiting her baby-sitter and housekeeper.

The diplomat was handcuffed by law enforcement authorities in New York Thursday while she was dropping her daughter at school.

Later Khobragade, who looks after political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs at the consulate, pleaded not guilty to the charges in Manhattan Federal Court and was freed on a $250,000 bail.

In June 2011, a former housekeeper had sued India’s then consul general in New York Prabhu Dayal accusing him of intimidating her into a year of forced labour. A year later he reportedly settled the case on undisclosed terms.

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