NEW DELHI - India reacted Tuesday to the arrest of one of its diplomats in New York last week by snubbing a U.S. congressional delegation, removing security from outside the U.S. Embassy and threatening to treat U.S. diplomats the same way it says its envoys were treated by America.
The issue has become a major story, with India's often-breathless media calling the situation a "full blown diplomatic war," while national security adviser Shivshankar Menon was quoted describing the U.S. action as "barbaric" and "despicable."
The dispute was sparked when Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, was arrested last week by New York police on charges of visa fraud. Indian media reports say she was handcuffed, strip-searched at a New York police station, and put in a lockup with common criminals.
A State Department spokeswoman said Monday that standard procedures were followed in Khobragade's arrest.
Khobragade, 39, is accused by U.S. prosecutors of submitting a false visa application for her housekeeper, promising to pay her $9.75 an hour when, in fact, she was paid about $3 an hour. On Thursday, Khobragade pleaded not guilty to visa fraud and was released on $250,000 bail. Her attorney argued that she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.
Indian media reported Tuesday that India has retaliated by summoning U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell and withdrawing all airport passes for U.S. consulate and embassy vehicles, effectively removing their priority treatment and free parking.
It has also asked the United States to provide information on the salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at U.S. missions in India and those working as domestic help for American families.
It has removed security from around the U.S. Embassy in the leafy Chanakyapuri district of New Delhi. India also has reportedly asked for the visa and bank account details of all teachers working at U.S. schools in the country to determine whether they're paying tax.