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India had also withdrawn some privileges U.S. diplomats and their families enjoy and would treat them as Indian officials are treated in the United States, the Indian official said.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

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…