Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate leaving federal court.

Devyani case: Sangeeta’s in-laws had worked with expelled US diplomat Wayne May

Jan 12 • Cover Story, Human Rights, Indo-US relations, International, News, USA, Women • 672 Views • No Comments





TNN | Jan 12, 2014, 03.02 AM IST


The parents-in-law of Sangeeta Richard, the domestic help at the centre of the India-US diplomatic spat, worked with US diplomat Wayne May who was expelled by India for his role in the Devyani Khobragade episode. This seems to be the main reason why May is said to have gone out of his way to facilitate the “evacuation” of Sangeeta’s husband Philip and children by arranging T-visas (trafficking) for them.

Many have wondered as to why US authorities approved surreptitious evacuation of Sangeeta’s family even at the cost of antagonizing a strategic partner. India had said May was responsible for the unilateral action by the State Department in evacuating the family and the subsequent arrest of Khobragade. May left India on Saturday.

May worked as the chief of the embassy’s security service representing US’ Bureau of Diplomatic Security. He was also looking after issues related to trafficking. The diplomatic security service was responsible for the arrest and handcuffing of Khobragade before she was handed over to US marshals. There is suspicion that the counselor, who has put in more than 27 years of service, may have used his influence with the diplomatic security in New York to ensure that Khobragade was subjected to the “standard operating procedure” after she was picked up from outside her children’s schools.

May’s conduct is said to be primarily the reason for the government’s assessment that the US embassy had acted in “bad faith”. The action by May disregarded prior legal processes in India, including a case of cheating against Sangeeta’s husband and a non-bailable warrant against Sangeeta, which insisted that the dispute between Khobragade and Sangeeta had to be contested in an Indian court. Sources here though said the government is not looking at the alleged role of May’s wife in procuring air tickets for the Sangeeta’s family.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday blamed the US for what he described as a ‘mini- crisis” saying that the incident could have been avoided if the US had warned foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and other senior Indian officials who were in the US just before Khobragade’s arrest on December 12. In a television interview, he said India’s “immediate, immediate” concerns had been addressed.

Later talking to reporters, he said there was “no stand-off” between India and the US. “There is no reason now to feel any immediate concern about any outcome that might be adverse or particularly disturbing in nature,” he said. Khurshid and Singh met Khobragade at South Block on Saturday. She told journalists that the government and her lawyer would speak on her behalf.

Speaking to Devil’s Advocate on CNN-IBN, Khurshid also said there was going to be no rethink on withdrawal of privileges to the US embassy staff “at least for now”. India has said the decision to withdraw diplomatic privileges and pull out barricades from outside the embassy was reciprocal, and not retaliatory, measure.





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