Kamal Nath says US needs to step out of mindset of taking countries lightly

Kamal-NathNew Delhi, Dec 17, : Pitching India's strong protest against the treatment meted out to Devyani Khobragade by the U. S. authorities, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday said the U. S. should step out of its mindset of taking other countries like a banana republic.

"The incident with the Indian diplomat is not just merely unfortunate. Calling it unfortunate will be putting it mildly. The incident should be condemned," Nath said.

Earlier, the Delhi Police began removing barricades placed outside the U. S. embassy in Delhi.

Lauding the series of steps taken by the Ministry of External Affairs in protest against the treatment carried out to Devyani Khobragade, Kamal Nath said, "I appreciate the steps taken by the Ministry of External Affairs. The U. S. should step out of the mindset that there are still banana republics in the world. The U. S. and other countries should recognize the dignity and respect of other countries. They cannot deal with other countries in such a manner."

"I think more such steps should follow until the U. S. issues an unconditional apology on this matter. The U. S needs to be awakened, that this is a changed world. I think India should give a lead to other countries to get this home to the U. S. There is a need for paradigm shift and reciprocity while dealing with other countries," Nath added.

"So, we condemned this act in the strongest possible word. Because this act is not just against India, but it is against all countries like India, big or small," Nath said.

The removal of the security barriers was one among a series of tough measures taken against American diplomats based at the embassy in Delhi and in consulates all over the country to let Washington know that the Indian Government is extremely upset over the treatment meted to one of its diplomats, Devyani Khobragade, in New York.

Strongly protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, strip search her and lodging her as common criminal with drug addicts in a New York prison, on alleged charges of committing visa fraud before being released on bail, the Indian Government, according to a television channel report, is reported to be considering the following measures:

(1)    Ask all U. S. consulate personnel and their families to turn in their identity cards.

(2)    A ban on import clearances for the American Embassy and Consulates.

(3)Withdrawal of airport passes and clearances for American diplomats based in India.

(4)Ask for salary details of Indian staff employed with the U. S. Embassy and consulates.

(5)    Ask Delhi Police to remove all security barricades outside the U. S. Embassy and consulates and

(6)    Visa details and salaries of teachers employed with the American School in Delhi and in consulate-run schools in other cities.

Simultaneously, political leaders cut across party lines to refuse to meet a U. S. Congress delegation till the diplomatic row is resolved.

Senior leaders like Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi have refused to meet the U. S. Congress delegation.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon cancelled meetings in Delhi with the delegation. Menon has described Khobragade's treatment as "despicable and barbaric."

Khobragade is India's Deputy Consul General in New York.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met Khobragade's father, Uttam Khobragade, at his office here, and said after the meeting: "It is completely unacceptable... We have put in motion what we believe will be an effective way to address this issue and protect her dignity... Everything that can be done, will be done."

Khurshid, however, met a U. S. Congress delegation, and is reported to have conveyed New Delhi 's displeasure over the arrest and subsequent treatment of Khobragade.

"We have expressed our sense of disquiet. We have communicated the essence we feel, both in diplomatic terms, but also feel distress due to the human element. Our sense has been adequately communicated to our friends in the U. S.," Khurshid said today.

Uttam Khobragade, a former IAS officer, said: "My daughter is brave, but I am worried. There is more than what meets the eye. She has not done anything wrong."

Devyani Khobragade, 39, was arrested on Thursday on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school and was handcuffed in public.

She was later released on a USD 250,000 bail. She has been accused of lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked at her home from November 2012 to June 2013. (ANI)

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