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Father defends official indicted on visa fraud

By Agencies in New Delhi and New York | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-11 07:25

Although the case concerning Indian consulate official Devyani Khobragade has created a serious rift between the United States and India, her father said in a televised news conference on Friday that she had been vindicated.

"Devyani left US soil with full diplomatic immunity, vindicating the stance that whatever dispute has been raised in the US is a prerogative of the sovereign country of India," said her father, Uttam Khobragade, a retired official.

"We are proud Indians. We may be a poor country, but we don't compromise the sovereignty of the country. We as a family would not like to touch the soil of a country that treats a human being in such a way," he added, saying that Khobragade's children and US husband would follow her to India.

However, in New York on Thursday, Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of the city, informed a judge that a grand jury had filed two counts of visa fraud and making false statements against Khobragade.

In an indictment, the grand jury said Khobragade had contracted to pay her servant 30,000 rupees ($573) a month - double the wages she would probably earn in India, but lower than the minimum wage in the US.

Father defends official indicted on visa fraud

In the alleged fake contract shown to US authorities, Khobragade listed a monthly pay of $4,500 for her maid.

The indictment also accused Khobragade of forcing the servant to work for illegally long hours, initially seven days a week, before she was given parts of Sunday off.

Khobragade did not give the servant any days off for holidays, vacation or illness, telling her not to fall sick because of the cost of seeing a doctor, the indictment said.

The maid, Sangeeta Richard, said in her first public statements on Thursday that she had decided to come to the US to work for a few years to support her family and then return to India.

"I never thought that things would get so bad here, that I would work so much that I did not have time to sleep or eat or have time to myself," she said in a statement released by the anti-trafficking group Safe Horizon.

She tried to return to India because of how she'd been treated, she said, but her request was denied.

"I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did - you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you," said Richard, who has been vilified in India and accused of blackmailing her employer.


(China Daily 01/11/2014 page8)

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