Last Thursday Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general and a self-proclaimed advocate for women's rights, was arrested in New York for allegedly paying her nanny just $3.31 an hour and lying about it on the woman's visa forms.
Federal authorities nabbed Khobragade as she dropped her daughter off at school; she was handcuffed upon arrest and later strip-searched. U.S. officials say that Khobragade does not have diplomatic immunity in this case because according to U.N. agreements, that would only apply to crimes committed in the course of her official duties. The U.S. Marshals said that standard procedures were followed, and the State Department is investigating.
Khobragade's arrest has caused outrage in India. According to the AP, the fear of public humiliation is strong in Indian culture, "and heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor. For an educated, middle-class woman to face public arrest and a strip search is almost unimaginable, except in the most brutal crimes." The Indian government retaliated today, removing security barricades from a roadway in front of the American embassy in Delhi, revoking diplomatic ID cards, and canceling import licenses for embassy officials.
One powerful politician even suggested the government use India's newly-reinstated ban on gay sex to get back at America by arresting and prosecuting the partners of gay U.S. diplomats. Former finance minister and opposition Yashwant Sinha (pictured above) told NDTV:
"My suggestion to the Government of India is, the media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of US diplomats' companions. 'Companions' means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country. Just as paying less wages was illegal in the US. So, why doesn't the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them? Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them."
Don't you love when LGBT people are used as political footballs?
Video of Sinha's comments is after the jump.