India and the Khobragade sagaBy Asia Sentinel Dec 28, 2013 11:52AM UTC
What first appeared straightforward isn’t writes Asia Sentinel.
Devyani Khobragade, the Indian consular official arrested two weeks ago by American officials on charges of visa fraud and labor law violations relating to her employment of a nanny/housekeeper, has stirred an international affair, with Indian outrage drawing demonstrations against the US government and the New York officials who arrested her.
The attractive 39-year-old Khobragade, rather than being a member of the elite foreign service, according to the narrative, is a dalit, a member of India’s lowest caste, once called “untouchables,” who apparently managed to pull herself up by her own bootstraps to become a member of an exclusive foreign service brigade. She is married to a New York-born American Indian who is described as an oenophile – a wine connoisseur.
But amid the swirl of charges of mistreatment of a diplomat, of high-handedness of US officials against a lesser country are the charges laid against Khobragade by Sangeeta Richard, the housemaid she employed.
Media in Mumbai say that Richard’s husband, Philip, in a petition to the New Delhi High Court in July, listed these charges against Khobragade, describing her as keeping his wife in “slavery-like conditions or keeping a person in bondage.”
Other charges include these:
- ”Even though the contract stipulated that Sunday would be an off-day she worked from 6 am to 11 pm, minus 2 hours for church even on Sunday. She worked from 6 am to 11 pm on Saturday as well.”
- “Uttam Khobragade called Sangeeta’s family several times and threatened them that they would have to face dire consequences if she complains and that he would ruin their future, get them abducted and frame false charges of drugs against them.”
- ”At the immigration office, Devyani falsely accused Sangeeta of theft, in front of the US Immigration Officer. Sangeeta asked what it was she had stolen. Devyani could not say and threatened her saying that she will come to know when she returns home.”
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