India takes US strip-search case to UN

India takes US strip-search case to UN
Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:45:27

India has asked the United Nations to accredit a New York-based diplomat, arrested for visa fraud, in a firm attempt to rebuke the United States over her treatment by US authorities who strip searched her.

A UN spokesman said on Friday that the organization had received an official request from New Delhi to accredit Devyani Khobragade as a member of India's permanent UN mission in what seemed to be a move to give her a stronger form of diplomatic immunity.

The diplomatic rift between India and the US has escalated, as India demands an American apology for the arrest and strip-search of its deputy consul general in New York last Thursday.

Khobragade's arrest has enraged India, which is demanding that all charges be dropped against her. Indian protesters ransacked a Domino's Pizza in a Mumbai suburb in anger at her detention this month for visa fraud and underpayment of her housekeeper.

She was strip-searched at a US District Court building in downtown Manhattan and placed in a holding cell. As India's deputy consul general in New York, she only had limited diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

Indian media said the request to transfer her to the United Nations was aimed at ending the stand-off with the United States in the hopes that Khobragade's new diplomatic status could allow New Delhi to bring her home without facing charges.

Diplomatic sources said that broader immunity could make it harder to follow through on a prosecution against her.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Shivshankar Menon, India's national security adviser, to express "regret" over the incident.

However, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told NDTV "we want more than a regret," saying India demands an apology.