Published On: Wed, Dec 18th, 2013

Devyani Khobragade recalls ‘indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping’ in US jail

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Amid rising tensions between India and the US over her arrest, Devyani Khobragade said she was not just handcuffed but subjected to strip-search, DNA swabbing and cavity searches.

India has reacted strongly over the arrest and “barbaric” treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York. However, the US stuck to its guns, saying it acted “appropriately” and demanded restoration of security for its missions in India.

On Tuesday, Khobragade wrote an e-mail to her IFS colleagues, urging the government to ensure her and her children’s safety.

She said she broke down a number of times but tried to maintain her dignity, a newspaper reported.

“While I was going through it, although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride,” she said.

Notably, even as it spoke of a “broad and deep friendship” and an “important relationship” with India, US officials on Tuesday expressed no regret, leave aside an “unconditional apology” demanded by India over the arrest and alleged strip search of Khobragade.

Reacting to a slew of retaliatory measures taken by India in response to the treatment of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, the State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said “an isolated episode” should not “impact the bilateral relationship.”

Asked if Khobragade was strip-searched, Harf said the State Department was looking into what transpired. While the US State diplomatic security had followed “standard procedures” she could not speak for the US marshals, who took the diplomat into custody.

But in response to specific news media queries about whether a strip search had been conducted on the Indian diplomat, the US Marshals Service confirmed that “standard arrestee intake procedures” were followed.

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