Diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s father flew off the handle at a press conference in the Capital Friday that he had called to announce the return of his daughter after he was quizzed about the flats owned by the family in the controversial Adarsh housing society of Mumbai.
Uttam Khobragade, a retired bureaucrat who has been vocal since the arrest of the diplomat on visa fraud charges last month and has even met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on the matter, broke off in a tirade of Marathi after he was posed questions on how the family would respond to charges of irregularities in the Adarsh society.
The retired IAS officer alleged that those raising questions on the controversial properties of the Khobragade’s were ‘castiest’ and refused to entertain any more questions from the Marathi media. In fact, the retired officer abruptly called off the press meet midway and proceeded only to take one to one interviews with the waiting media.
Later, on being asked to elaborate on what he meant by saying that the family was being targeted for its caste, Khobragade said, “The people of Maharashtra have the answer to that, they will answer that.” The retired IAS officer also expressed his ire at being asked a question on Adarsh during the press conference.
“What a logic, we are fighting this (Devyani’s) case and this stupid question (comes) of buying a flat. That shows their mental situation,” he said. On being further probed on the status of the flats, he said that the property had not been cancelled or returned as it had been paid for by the family.
Earlier in the press conference, he said Devyani had rejected an offer to compromise to a plea bargain and stay in the US as she was fighting to ‘uphold the sovereignty’ of the nation. He added that Devyani’s husband and children would soon join her in India.
Flurry of activity before Devyani leaves US
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose December 12 arrest and strip-search provoked outrage in India and caused a major rift between India and the US, headed home on Thursday at the request of the US State Department. The following is a timeline of events immediately before her departure:
* India orders the US to close an embassy club for expatriate Americans in New Delhi.
* US mission to United Nations sends Khobragade a letter accrediting her as member of India’s permanent mission and conferring diplomatic immunity as of 5:47 pm, according to a copy of the letter provided by her lawyer.
* Just after 7 pm, US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in New York denies a request to extend a January 13 court deadline, which Khobragade had sought to continue discussions with prosecutors.
* US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz postpones a trip to India, planned for next week, due to escalating tensions.
* India refuses US request to waive immunity. US mission to UN files diplomatic note with Indian mission requesting Khobragade’s immediate departure, according to a copy of the note provided by her lawyer. “Upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest and should she seek to enter the US she could be arrested,” the note said.
* Khobragade was to board an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi, according to court papers. The flight was scheduled to depart at 2:25 pm. Her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, advises her not to leave before getting a judge’s permission, court records show.
* Just after 3:30 pm, Preet Bharara, the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, says Khobragade has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of visa fraud and making false statements. In a letter to US District Judge Shira Scheindlin, prosecutors say they have been told Khobragade has been granted diplomatic immunity and has left the country
* At 4:40 pm, a hearing on the case before Scheindlin begins. Scheindlin gives Khobragade permission to leave the country.
* Minutes after the hearing starts, Bharara’s office releases a statement saying Khobragade’s lawyer had told prosecutors she was still in the country, giving no further explanation.
* Arshack later confirms that Khobragade is planning to leave the US on Thursday night but doesn’t say on which flight. A search showed that United Airlines operated the only direct flight from the New York area to New Delhi on Thursday night, departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey at 8:40 pm A United Airlines spokesman declined to confirm or deny that she had a ticket for the flight.