NEW DELHI – India’s government on Saturday said it was “disappointed” by new US charges against an Indian diplomat for visa fraud involving employment of a housekeeper and warned the move could reignite a bitter row between the countries.
The government’s spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, said India was “disappointed… the United States Department of Justice chose to obtain a second indictment” against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade even though a US judge threw out similar charges earlier this week because she had diplomatic immunity.
“Any measures consequent to this decision in the US will unfortunately impact upon efforts on both sides to build the India-US strategic partnership, to which both sides are committed,” the Indian spokesman warned.
“This was an unnecessary step,” Akbaruddin said in a statement emailed to AFP, calling the case “without merit” and adding the Indian government “will therefore no longer engage on this case in the United States’ legal system”.
A New York grand jury on Friday re-indicted the Indian diplomat accused of mistreating her housekeeper on two counts of visa fraud and making false statements.
Khobragade, who has since returned to India, was arrested on December 12 outside her children’s school and later strip-searched, enraging the Indian government and some of the Indian public.
The diplomatic row between the two countries, which had embraced each other as strategic partners, strained ties and fanned resentment on both sides.