As India set up a group of experts, including on international law, to examine how to pursue the case against the US in the arrest and strip-search of envoy Devyani Khobragade, a number of former Indian staff of US consulates in India have complained they have been underpaid.
As a measure of reciprocity following the Dec 12 arrest of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, India sought details from the US embassy and its consulates on the number of Indian staff on their rolls and the wages paid to them.
Khobragade was handcuffed and strip-searched after her arrest for alleged visa fraud and underpaying her child’s nanny – charges she has denied.
It is learnt that a number of Indians formerly on the rolls of the US embassy and its consulates in India have approached the government with documentary proof of the salary they were being paid, which though higher by Indian standards were nowhere near what the US demands that employees should be paid.
The government would be taking the documents into consideration while building up its case.
India has demanded that the US take back charges against Khobragade and tender an unconditional apology.
The group of experts set up by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh met Monday for the first time. They are to continue to meet over the next few days to pursue the matter to the end.
The group comprises experts in international law, finance, human resource, and international organisations, among others. They would follow up on all Khobragade related developments.
They are to also scrutinize the information on the wages being paid by US diplomats in India to their Indian staff to see if these were par with the US standards.
India has sought details from the US embassy and its consulates on the number of Indian staff on their rolls and the wages paid to them.
While the US maintained that she was a consular official and not under diplomatic immunity, India has said Khobragade was concurrently an advisor to India’s Permanent Mission at the UN from April this year, which gave her full diplomatic immunity.
India has already withdrawn the airport passes given to US diplomats in India and the special diplomatic identity cards issued to them as part of reciprocal measures after the arrest of Khobragade.