Admitting to differences in interpretation of law,the US on Friday said India had not acceded to demands for providing details of the inquiry into allegations made by diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s domestic maid or make her available for discussing charges.
It also said that the two governments have been in discussions since last July after the maid,Sangita Richard,left the diplomat’s home without informing her and her attorney complained to the State Department raising charges of visa fraud and other issues.
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied charges that they were not in touch with Indian authorities.
The Indian Embassy,however,maintained that the only letter it had received was on September 4 in which the Indian government was informed about the allegations of the maid and asked to investigate the case.
The Indian Embassy here has alleged that various agencies of the US Government–New York Police Department,State Department and the US Embassy in new Delhi–did not respond to any of its communications with regard to Richard.
Harf said the launch of investigation by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the State Department constrained it and its officials to respond to the queries of the Indian government,be it either the Indian Embassy in Washington,the Indian Consulate in New York or the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
“We received notification on July 9th,2013 from the attorney of the alleged victim that made allegations of visa fraud and other issues,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.
“At that point,the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in the State Department was legally obligated to begin an investigation into those allegations,” she said.
“Once an investigation has begun,we are constrained in what we can say both in public and private because issues become law enforcement-sensitive. We do our very best to be responsive while following both the letter and the spirit of the law,” Harf said in response to a question.
As a result of the legal binding,the State Department has been restrained from making specific kind of communication to the Indian officials either in private or public.
The State Department spokesperson refuted the Indian assertion that the US ignored communiques on the issue.
“It’s highly inaccurate to say that we ignored any Government of India communiques on this issue,period,” Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.
The State Department,she said,is compiling a precise sequence of all of government-to-government communications on it. This goes back to this summer,she said.
“Some of these communications are private diplomatic conversations or law enforcement sensitive. I’d point that out now,” she said in response to a question.
Richard,who arrived in the US along with Khobragade in November 2012,left the New York apartment of the Indian diplomat without informing her on June 23,days after she was denied permission to work for someone else.
The permission was denied by Khobragade arguing she has come to the US on an official passport,which does not permit her to work at any an other place.
A day after Richard left the house of Khobragade without informing the latter,the Indian Consulate in New York informed the Office of the Foreign Mission (OFM) of the State Department in New York that Richard was missing.
The Indian Consulate tried to find her,but could not trace her. Thereafter,followed a series of communications from the Indian Consulate in New York,the Indian Embassy in Washington DC and Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
Harf conceded that there are differences in the interpretation of the law by the US and the Indian Government.
“I think it is accurate to say that our law enforcement authorities and the government of India have some different interpretations of the issues and allegations at play throughout this entire scenario,” Harf said.
“But I would say that we have engaged in extensive conversations with the Government of India about this issue in Washington,in New York,in New Delhi,going back to the summer,” she said.
“We’ve also requested the Government of India to provide us with the results of its own inquiry into the allegations made by Dr Khobragade’s domestic worker and to make her available to discuss them,I don’t think either of which was done.
“So we’ve had a lot of conversations back and forth,we’re continuing to now,and I think it’s fair to say that we’re still looking into exactly what all of those conversations look like. But we definitely responded. Certainly it is inaccurate to say that we did not,” the State Department spokesperson said.