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Khobragade’s arrest: India asks US embassy to stop commercial activities from Jan 16

Indian stepped up offensive against the US following the arrest of Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

Stepping up offensive against the US following the arrest and humiliation of its Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade, India on Wednesday asked the US Embassy to stop all the commercial activities from its embassy premises from January 16.

India’s action comes ahead of the January 13 deadline for the indictment in New York of Khobragade on visa fraud charges.

Besides, the US diplomatic vehicles will now attract penalty for all traffic-related offences.

Acting tough, the government has asked the embassy to stop commercial activities undertaken under the aegis of the American Community Support Association (ACSA), including restaurant/bar, video club, bowling alley, swimming pool, sports field, beauty parlour and gym.

The US has also been asked to provide the tax returns filed by it with Indian authorities for commercial activities which are afforded through ACSA to non-diplomatic persons, including private American citizens and their families, government sources said here.

India has already downgraded the immunity of US diplomats by withdrawing the immunity enjoyed by their family members. Following the move, families of American consular officials no longer have diplomatic ID cards.

US consular officials in four consulates in India are being issued new ID cards specifying the limited immunity which will not protect them from serious offences.

Recently, the government had asked the US Embassy not to screen any movies at the American Centre without obtaining a licence and gave it a deadline of January 20 to comply. In a “tersely-worded” communication sent to the American Centre on Friday last, a deadline of January 20 was given to the American Centre to comply with Indian laws and Delhi government regulations and obtain licence for screening films, sources said.

Khobragade, the 39-year-old 1999 batch IFS officer, was arrested in New York on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard and subjected to strip and cavity search, which had sparked outrage in India and resulted in government enforcing strict “reciprocity” and withdrawing extra privileges.

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