New Delhi: In a sensational charge, India has accused US authorities of conspiracy and immigration fraud by allowing the family of Sangeeta Richard, the domestic help of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, to move to America. It was on Ms Richard's complaint that Ms Khobragade was arrested in New York last week, sparking a major diplomatic row between the two countries. (Diplomat arrest row - latest developments)
NDTV has learnt that Ms Richard's husband and two children flew out to the United States on December 10, just two days before the senior consular officer's arrest. Officials say India had repeatedly warned the US since June that the domestic help was missing and could be attempting to move there.
Ms Richard had worked for Ms Khobragade for nine months till June this year. She had complained that her employer made her falsify documents for her visa application, and made her work a 40-hour week on just three dollars a day. (Read: Charges against Devyani Khobragade)
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament today that Ms Richard had disappeared in June and that a case was lodged with the New York Police Department but no action was taken.
"The Deputy Consul General (later) received a phone call from a lawyer who refused to identify himself and offered to settle the matter that would result in grant of permanent citizenship to her and a huge compensation. It became clear that this was a conspiracy and some people trapped her," Mr Khurshid said, adding the treatment meted out to Ms Khobragade had "not happened out of blue" and there is a "history" behind it.
On July 5, the American Embassy was told that US authorities must help find her.
Ms Richard, who remained in hiding, reportedly met an immigration lawyer in the US in September and asked for $10,000 and a passport to stay on in the country.
The Delhi High Court, in the same month, passed an injunction against the domestic help; all this, officials say, was shared with the American Embassy. But they claim the US never responded.
Interestingly, Ms Richard's father-in-law works at the US embassy in Delhi.
Following Ms Khobragade's arrest, the government is now in the process of revising the framework of taking domestic assistants abroad in order to avoid problems in the future.