Khobragade case: Mayawati gives a Dalit spin,Khurshid vows to restore diplomat’s dignityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/khobragade-case-mayawati-gives-a-dalit-spin-khurshid-vows-to-restore-diplomats-dignity-2/

Khobragade case: Mayawati gives a Dalit spin,Khurshid vows to restore diplomat’s dignity

Khurshid said he would not return to the House unless he was able to restore diplomat's dignity.

BSP chief Mayawati on Wednesday accused the government of being “anti-Dalit”,saying it had been dragging its feet in the Devyani Khobragade case because she belongs to a Scheduled Caste.

Amid widespread outrage in Parliament,External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told MPs that he “would not return to the House” unless he was able to “restore” the diplomat’s “dignity”.

“Whatever has happened with a Dalit lady in the US,we cannot ignore it. But it has also unmasked the Centre’s anti-Dalit mentality,” Mayawati said outside Parliament.

“Had it been any other woman,the government would have taken some major action by now. But it has been many days since the incident happened and the government is yet to initiate any concrete step. What the government is doing is not clear yet. It seems the Centre is not serious. This is an important national issue,” she said.

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Speaking earlier in Parliament,Mayawati deplored the “humiliating and insulting” way in which Khobragade had been arrested and frisked,and said this was “a matter of great concern and government should take the issue very seriously”.

There was outrage in both Houses over the issue,and MPs cutting across party lines demanded strong retaliatory action by the government,and an apology from the US.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament that Khobragade was a victim of a conspiracy.

“She is innocent… It is not the illegality that she is accused of,but the illegality she refused to oblige,” Khurshid said. He described the US action as totally unacceptable,and declared that India would intervene “effectively and specifically” in what was now a question of the “nation”.

“Today,our paramount concern is to ensure that the dignity of our officer is preserved… The tragedy is that this is not an incident in which two countries are involved. This is an incident in which individuals are involved… It is no longer an issue of an individual,but the sovereignty of a nation is involved,” Khurshid said.

“We strongly condemn the incident… We will do the needful to protect India’s interests. It is my responsibility… We will bring back the diplomat and restore her dignity… If I fail to do it,I will not return to this House.”

The minister outlined the “conspiracy”: “Some Indian passport holders,they wanted to get the diplomat to sign something which would have given them the right to work elsewhere as well,but she did not do that. When we asked the US officials to probe this,they did not do so. She actually refused to do something wrong… We had requested them to submit an affidavit to the high court and the police here against the conspirators,but they did not do. We have even forwarded to the US authorities the magistrate’s arrest warrant against the conspirators but they did not act on it. Instead,they arrested our official. We have been doing everything needed to do in this case since July. We have started certain proceedings on December 13.”

According to Khurshid,the diplomat had received a phone call from a lawyer who refused to identify himself and offered to settle the matter that would result in the grant of permanent citizenship to her,and a huge compensation. “It became clear that this was a conspiracy and some people trapped her,” he said.

Khurshid insisted that the government had not overreacted in taking a slew of measures against US diplomats in India. “First and foremost,our effort is to bring her out of this situation and then we will talk to the US government.” He said US diplomats and their families had been asked to surrender their airport passes by December 19,and a list of all Indian nationals working with US consulates,including domestic servants,had been sought by December 23,along with copies of their contracts,bank accounts,salaries paid and PAN numbers. Requests by US missions for privileges like duty-free import of liquor may be withdrawn.

In Lok Sabha,the matter was raised by SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. He was followed by Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj,JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav,and others.

In Rajya Sabha,members disrupted Question Hour to take up the issue. Congress members protested against Mayawati’s allegation,but the BSP chief refused to back down.

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Those who spoke included Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.