India seeks possible U.S. tax violations after arrest of diplomat

India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India's Consulate General in New York, June 19, 2013.
India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, attends a Rutgers University event at India’s Consulate General in New York, June 19, 2013.
Credit: Reuters

India has sought details about staff in American schools in the country for possible tax violations and revoked ID cards of U.S. consular officials and their families, retaliatory steps for the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

The measures suggest that the two countries are no closer to a resolution of a diplomatic dispute over the treatment of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade this month on charges of visa fraud and underpayment of her housekeeper.

Khobragade, who has denied the charges, was handcuffed and strip-searched while in custody, sparking outrage in India.

An Indian government official said on Friday that New Delhi had asked the U.S. embassy to provide details about people working in American schools and other U.S. government facilities to determine if they had permission to do so and if they were paying taxes that are mandatory under Indian law.

Diplomats’ spouses who take up work in schools or other embassy facilities are supposed to inform the host country.

Violations of this kind had often been ignored, but now India would not turn a blind eye, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. embassy declined to comment on the latest steps.

India had also withdrawn some privileges U.S. diplomats and their families enjoy and would treat them as Indian officials are treated in the United States, the Indian official said.

U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell has been refused special privileges at New Delhi airport.

“We have said all access is on a reciprocal basis,” the government official said. “She is not going to get the benefits that the Indian ambassador in the U.S. doesn’t get.”

U.S. consular officials and their families have been asked to surrender identity cards that gave them a degree of immunity. Under a new regime, consular officials – but not their families – will be given identity cards with fewer privileges.

“Spouses and children have no more immunity. So if there is a parking offence or … something else happening in Bangalore etcetera, they would be held liable,” the Indian official said.

Khobragade was released in New York on $250,000 bail after giving up her passport and pleading not guilty to visa fraud and making false statements about how much she paid her Indian housekeeper. She faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret over the case in a phone call to India’s national security adviser last week, but India is still demanding that the charges be dropped and that the United States apologizes. U.S. prosecutors have defended the investigation against Khobragade and her treatment. Before this diplomatic blowup, U.S.-Indian relations were seen as cordial and improving.

In a new twist, India now argues that Khobragade was accredited to the United Nations at the time of her detention, giving her immunity from arrest.

She was temporarily moved to India’s U.N. mission in August to help with the workload ahead of the General Assembly session and a visit by the prime minister. A copy of her accreditation, made available to Reuters, lists her as an adviser for a period from August 26 until December 31.

“At no stage we were told by the U.S. side what was going on. We were kept in the dark. A lot of these things could have come out had we been informed then,” the official said, explaining that India had not been warned she might be arrested.

He said that even when Khobragade was posted to Islamabad she had not encountered such treatment, despite the hostility between India and Pakistan.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.