‘Devyani told maid not to fall ill in New York’

Told her maid Richard medical treatment would be too expensive.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:January 16, 2014 1:21 am
Khobragade was indicted in a New York court on two counts of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts. (AP) Khobragade was indicted in a New York court on two counts of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts. (AP)

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade had told her domestic help, Sangeeta Richard, not to fall ill since getting medical treatment for her in New York would be expensive, according to papers filed by US attorney Preet Bharara in a New York court to indict her. The maid was made to work for extremely long hours and without a single entire day off, according to the indictment filed against Khobragade, which was made public Wednesday. After two months, she was allowed to visit the church on Sunday, but had to cook all meals before going and had to work till 10 pm after returning, it stated.

It further stated that Khobragade made the domestic help work up to 100 or more hours per week which, based on the promised salary of $573 per month, would result in an actual hourly wage of $1.42 per hour or less. Khobragade, meanwhile, has asked the court to dismiss her indictment against her and terminate any “open” arrest warrants in the visa fraud case, arguing that she was “cloaked” in diplomatic immunity and cannot face criminal prosecution in the US.

The indictment also stated that Khobragade did not give the victim any holidays or sick leave. “Indeed, on two occasions when the victim became ill, the victim was not given a sick day. On one occasion, the victim had to ask to see a doctor several times before Khobragade relented. Khobragade told the victim not to get sick because it was expensive,” it said. “For approximately the first two months of the victim’s employment, the victim worked seven days a week. Khobragade told the victim that she would not have any days off because the victim was paid Rs 30,000 per month, which covered overtime hours. After about two months, the victim requested to be given some time off on Sundays to attend church. Khobragade permitted the victim to take time off on Sundays approximately from 10.30 am to 5.30 or 6.30 pm, only on days when Khobragade’s husband was home.

On those instances, the victim was required to prepare all meals for Sundays in advance, and on Sundays when the victim returned to the Khobragade US residence, the victim was required to work until 9.30 or 10 pm,” the indictment paper said. “Beginning in or about February 2013, the victim told Khobragade on several occasions that the victim wished to end her employment and return to India, because the victim felt she was being mistreated. Khobragade denied her requests,” it said.

The US authorities accused Khobragade of helping the domestic help in submitting fake documents to the US State Department, saying that she was paying $4,500 per month, when in reality, the domestic help got only $573 a month. Khobragade had hired Richard in 2012 and she was working as a babysitter and domestic help at her house in the upscale Manhattan area of New York till last June.

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  1. C
    Jan 16, 2014 at 3:40 am
    Reads like a fairy tale. First off, the maid had medical insurance which would have taken care of the medical bills. It is very possible that DK might have conversationally told the maid that medical facilities are quite expensive in the US, which they are when compared to India where one can get free treatment in a Govt hospital.
  2. D
    Jan 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm
    25 lac inr for one day hospital charge?. Obamas health care wanted to mitigate this to some extent. Only GOD SHOULD GIVE GOOD HEALTH or Health insurance.
  3. C
    Jan 16, 2014 at 6:05 am
    Khobragade herself comes from schedule caste tribe. Khobragade should not have behaved as a slave master. USA even put a Soudi Princess in jail for similar charges in Califorina. Just imagine if Indians are allowed to bring in a slave at Indian wages in USA. I am proud of what USA did. If india wants her diplomats to have a maid then it should pay wages accordingly to her diplomatic staff. Cavity search is a norm in USA. What if USA had arrested her husband and did a cavity search on him, then it would have been non-issue and as her husband is an american citizen, he would have a fellon for life in USA.
  4. D
    Jan 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm
    Very reasonable advice. Given the cost of healthcare in the US, and the fact that a simple fall could bankrupt the uninsured.This is not india, where you can go to a corner dr. office and get treatment. One of my friends dad had a stroke when he was visiting an the hospital charged him 175K USD for a 4 day stay.Both the maid and the diplomat think US is india. Diplomat thinking she 'needs' or 'deserves' a maid. And the maid thinking she's enled to free rent and food etc. and the US work ethic.
  5. S
    Jan 17, 2014 at 4:12 am
  6. K
    Krishna Kumar
    Jan 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm
    The question is treating a servant. DK treatment ia unacceptable. DK also filed misleading docs with US immigration. She thought she can get away with any thing. US is not Inidia. Now her father wants a Loksabha ticket. May be a ministry later. We dont know what DK wants later.:-)
  7. G
    Jan 20, 2014 at 10:01 pm
    The accusations are nonsense. All NRIs advise their visiting parents to avoid falling sick in US because medical costs can run up. So, are they abusing their parents. What kind of sickness was it? If it was fever or cough/cold, yes we ourselves try over the counter medication before we go to doctor. Who gets an employer to take you to the doctor? And then she got Sundays off for going to the church. All these are nonsense claims about abuse with no proof.
  8. K
    Jan 16, 2014 at 10:59 am
    The w episode could have been nipped in bud and handled in professional than an impulsive way, but now we have to get ready to face the consequences of these developments.
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