Archive for India
A 28 year-old-man, who worked at the Ireland embassy, has been arrested for allegedly stalking and harassing a senior embassy official. The accused identified as Umesh was arrested after the victim and her husband approached the police. “The complainant, who is a senior position at the embassy had been receiving missed calls from several numbers even at odd hours. “Whenever she tried calling back, the number was never picked,” a police official said. Fed up by the continuous harassment, the victim and her husband approached the police. Police put the numbers on surveillance and tried to zero in on the accused but it was found that they were issued on fake documents. Investigators worked on the case systematically and narrowed down on a few suspects and Umesh was identified. After thorough interrogation, he broke down and accepted to have committed the crime. A case was registered in the matter, police said.
India’s new envoy to the United States says he wants to raise the “morale” of the India-U.S. relationship as the two nations look to mending ties damaged by the row over American treatment of an Indian diplomat. India’s ambassador to the U.S. says officials of the two governments are holding preliminary discussions to resolve their differing interpretations of diplomatic immunity. Relations have been strained by American treatment of an Indian diplomat who was expelled from the U.S. this month after she was indicted on accusations of exploiting her housekeeper.
The ministry of external affairs has accessed work contracts of several Indians employed by the US embassy in Delhi and its consulates in Chennai and Hyderabad, HT has learnt. These employees have alleged that they are being ‘underpaid’ and ‘facing discrimination’. “After Devyani Khobragade made headlines, several Indians employed by the American embassy contacted us with their grievances,” a top government official said, adding, “we are keeping the ammunition dry for future use.” Accused of tax and visa fraud by teachers employed at the American school, the US could well also be charged with underpaying Indians on its rolls. Khobragade, an Indian diplomat in the US, was charged for underpaying her maid and MEA officials believe that the employment contracts accessed by them point to the Indians being similarly underpaid. Importantly, the wages are not just lower than their American colleagues, but are well below salaries received by Indians employed by the Indian government. Some employees are now trying to leverage the recent standoff between the two countries in the hope that the US embassy may address the issue. At least one of the four employees who have now approached the MEA has told the ministry that he has put in a complaint and is awaiting internal redressal. In India, the US embassy and its consulates employ an approximate 1,000 people, ranging from security guards and cooks to senior consultants and advisors.
Expats have been kicked out of leisure facilities at the US Embassy in New Delhi, India, as the governments row over diplomatic status in their nations. The move follows the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, accused of visa fraud and perjury. The Indian government protested strongly about the arrest and subsequent inquiry that is ongoing. Now, the Indian government has issued an order closing the American Community Support Association in New Delhi to non-diplomats. The Indians claim expats who are not embassy staff or diplomats buy duty-free imports at the club while using the restaurant, bar and leisure facilities, which include a pool, beauty salon and gym. The Indian Foreign Ministry served a notice on the club stating the commercial activities for non-diplomats violated international law and that a tax return accounting for them was expected by January 16. “We have discovered that the association sold imported duty-free goods to private American citizens and their families. These non-diplomats have also used the beauty salon, video club, swimming pool and gym,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. “These facilities are only meant for diplomats. Extending them to non-diplomats is a commercial venture and taxes need paying in India.” The US Embassy in New Delhi has declined to comment on the ban. However, American missions and embassies worldwide have similar clubs for diplomats and often extend the facilities to expats.
Indian media have been giving wide play to derogatory comments by a U.S. diplomat couple on Indian life and culture, exacerbating already strained relations between the two countries in the wake of the Devyani Khobragade affair. The Times of India identified the couple as Wayne May, who headed the security team at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, and his wife Alicia Muller, who worked, ironically, as a community liaison officer. May had been expelled from India in retaliation for the recent arrest in New York City of Khobragade, an Indian diplomat, who was indicted on charges of visa fraud and mistreatment of her maid before being allowed to return to New Delhi. On his Facebook page, May made fun of the Indian way of life and said his pet dog was better nourished than his Indian gardener as the dog got more protein in his diet. In one Facebook post, Muller referred to India’s reputation for sexual violence: “It’s the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat eaters — this place is just so bizarre.” The couple also made fun of cows, which are a religious symbol in India. When one of Muller’s friends pointed out that she had insulted an Indian god, she retorted “Not the first time, not the last.” Washington was at pains to distance itself from the postings. “Those comments absolutely do not reflect U.S. government policy, nor were they made on any official U.S. government social-media account,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “I would underscore that these do not in any way represent the U.S. government position.” Although the offensive remarks appear to have been deleted, several websites in India, including Racist American Diplomats, published a selection of screenshots of them.
More than three weeks after the December 23 deadline got over, the US embassy is yet to submit details about the Indian staffers at American schools as well as in its mission and consulates. The details — names of the staffers and their salary details — include those Indians employed by US diplomats in personal capacity such as maids and drivers. Meanwhile, it has emerged that American embassy school in New Delhi has warned parents about a report appearing in the media about the school. It seems to be the fallout of an internal missive of the school with teachers, which reportedly sought to hide the actual details of their US staffers reaching sections of media. The reason could be that many US teachers are not on work visa. Besides visa rules violation, this could also lead to possible tax violations. It was in the wake of the diplomatic row after the arrest of Devyani Kbobragade that the external affairs ministry began to question the functioning of the American school.
A 51-year-old Danish woman was gang raped by a group of men in New Delhi, India late last night. The attack was confirmed to DR Nyheder by a spokesperson at the Foreign Affairs Ministry. “The embassy in New Delhi has provided the best possible consular assistance to the woman,” said a duty officer at the ministry. The rape allegedly took place late Tuesday night after the woman was threatened with a knife by a group of more than six men, according to the ministry. The woman had become lost after a museum visit prior to the incident, according to an Indian police spokesperson. The Times of India reported that the woman left for Copenhagen this morning. Guidelines published by the ministry for those travelling to India warn that women should exercise “considerable caution” in light of the growing number of sexual assaults against women, including tourists.
Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden worked at the US embassy in India and spent almost a week taking a course in “ethical hacking”, about three years before he leaked the NSA’s surveillance programmes. Snowden was in India in his capacity as a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor “to assist as a technical expert” at the US embassy in New Delhi, the Foreign Policy magazine reported, citing a source with knowledge of the situation. He spent six days taking courses in ethical hacking and programming at Koenig Solutions, a professional institute located six miles from the US embassy, the report quoted school officials and people familiar with Snowden’s trip as saying. Snowden, 30, also inquired about methods to reverse-engineer the world’s most popular kits for committing widespread online crime like the ZeuS, Fragus, and SpyEye crimeware kits. That was a curious request and potentially at odds with his interest in ethical hacking, said Koenig spokesman Somit Biswas. Snowden flew to India from Japan on September 2, 2010. He stayed for a night at New Delhi’s Hyatt Regency hotel. Snowden did not disclose his India trip to investigators when renewing his top-secret security clearance the following year. It was this clearance, NSA officials say, that gave Snowden access to the 1.7 million classified files he later stole from the agency’s computer networks and databases.
The United States says it will withdraw a diplomat from its embassy in New Delhi after India demanded the expulsion, in a growing dispute between the two countries. Wayne May has been identified as the diplomat leaving the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. Media reports say he was instrumental in coordinating the case against an Indian diplomat the U.S. accuses of underpaying her housekeeper. He also is reported to have helped the family of the housekeeper receive visas allowing them to go to the U.S. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Friday that she hopes the removal of the U.S. diplomat from India will bring closure to the situation. “We deeply regret that the Indian government felt it was necessary to expel one of our diplomatic personnel. This has clearly been a challenging time in the U.S.-India relationship.” The dispute between the United States and India began when U.S. police arrested and strip-searched India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade. In an apparent compromise, the United States increased Khobragade’s diplomatic immunity that allowed her to leave the country. Khobragade arrived in India Friday. “I just want to thank my nation for the support that they’ve given me, thank you.”
The traffic police have booked 10 US embassy cars since Thursday after MEA directed them not to be lenient with American mission officials violating rules. Registration numbers of US embassy cars have been brought to the notice of traffic police personnel to ensure they don’t escape breaking rules. Officers said of the 10 embassy vehicles, four were booked for tinted glasses and fined Rs 100, one was booked for non-compliance. On Friday, five cars were fined for parking against rules and challanned, officers said. They added if embassy cars are driven by Indian drivers they are prosecuted under normal rules. For foreigners, the standard protocol is followed. No special consideration is to be shown if the driver claims diplomatic immunity. Earlier US embassy officials got away claiming immunity even if they were caught for drunken driving. Now, if embassy staffers are caught driving drunk, they will be given a breathalyzer test. If they are found over the permissible limit the law will kick in. The ministry of home affairs too has issued directives to Delhi Police asking them to treat traffic violations by US embassy officials strictly. Registration certificates of their cars will be checked. These cars will not be impounded but dealt with seriously.