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Diplomat row erupts: India asks US diplomats to return Ids; airport passes also withdrawn
17-Dec-13   15:50 Hrs IST

In an escalating diplomatic row, India has asked the United States to return IDs issued to all its consular officers posted in the country, a move which may be a precursor to reviewing immunity and benefits enjoyed by them as a protest to the treatment meted out to India's deputy consul general in New York.The government intends to review the immunity and benefits enjoyed by the US diplomats. The review comes after India reacted sharply to Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public in New York on visa fraud charges last week. Devyani was arrested on 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. She was later released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in a Manhattan court. The incident has led to a diplomatic standoff between India and the US. India described the incident as unacceptable and in protest, speaker Meira Kumar and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon refused to meet a Congressional delegation on Monday. The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of the Indian government. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi cancelled their meetings with a senior US Congressional delegation ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to Devyani.India has also withdrawn all airport passes for US diplomats both from Embassy and Consulates. In an unprecedented reaction, India has sought details including salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at the US consulates, including by Consulate officers and families, such as domestic help. The government has stopped all import clearances for the US embassy, including liquor. All traffic barricades near the US embassy in Delhi, except the picket, will be removed. The government has also sought visa and other details of all teachers at US schools, and pay and bank accounts of those of Indians in these schools.

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