New Delhi/Washington: The United States has said it is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York last week which has sparked a major diplomatic row between the two nations. A furious New Delhi on Tuesday retaliated with a slew of measures to pare down the privileges of American diplomats after details of Ms Khobragade's arrest became public.
The 39-year-old consular officer was subjected to a humiliating strip search, was swabbed for DNA and was kept in a cell with drug addicts after her arrest for alleged visa fraud. She was released on bail the same day.
Acknowledging that it was a "sensitive issue", US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, "Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended."
"The United States and India enjoy a broad and deep friendship, and this isolated episode is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful ties we share," she added.
Her statement follows a series of reprisal measures launched by India. Delhi Police removed security barricades from outside the sprawling US embassy in the capital on Tuesday. (See pics) US diplomats in consulates across India have been asked to surrender identity cards issued to them and their families, which entitle them to special privileges including diplomatic immunity. India has also withdrawn all airport passes for consulates and import clearances for the embassy.
"We have put in motion what we believe will be an effective way to address this issue and protect her dignity," said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
India is also asking for details like salaries paid to Indian staff employed in US consulates, including those working as domestic helps with the families of American officials. Officials say US consulates in India are US territory so Indian workers there should be paid American wages.
New Delhi has also asked for the visa details of all teachers at US schools, details of their salary and their bank accounts to determine if they pay taxes.
The US has accused Ms Khobragade of lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked at her home, paying her less than minimum wages and forcing her to work for more than 40 hours a week. (Read charges against Devyani Khobragade)