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Devyani Khobragade row: US columnist says Obama should clean up mess

Washington: Observing that Indo-US ties are "on the rocks" after the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a noted American columnist has asked the Obama Administration to clear up the mess and offer a "sincere apology" to India at the earliest.

"The Obama administration has to clean up this mess with an official and sincere apology. It should be issued by (Secretary of State John) Kerry," wrote CNN Contributor and Radio Talk Show Host Ruben Navarrette.

Devyani Khobragade. AP

Devyani Khobragade. AP

A columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group, Navarrette wrote what Americans really need to kick off the New Year is a dramatic improvement in relations with India.

"In a world where it sometimes seems the US doesn't have many friends and allies, that south Asian country has become both. Most notably, since the attacks 11 September, 2001, India has been a partner in fighting the war on terror," he said.

"Now the relationship is on the rocks due to an ugly incident involving a 39-year-old deputy consul general of India who was taken into custody on 12 December by the US Marshals Service on charges she lied on the application for her nanny and housekeeper to legally work in the United States," Navarrette said.

In a statement, Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra said, "For now, every hour that Devyani's fate remains unsafe and unsettled, additional collateral damage is being exacted by fine tooth-combing retaliatory reciprocity. Only after Devyani is safe, can proportionality, the wiser sibling of reciprocity, be requested to take over."

Writing for Huffington Post, Suchitra Vijayan, lawyer, political analyst and writer, said that Khobragade represents some of the best things about the Indian mission - ambassadors of soft power.

The allegations against Khobragade, she said, could have been dealt with in a manner that fits her position as a diplomat.

"The basic mores of legal proportionality were violated. Handcuffing is only used when there are grounds for restraint and no reasonable grounds for the use of handcuffs was produced," she said.

"The theatrics of the arrest and the press conference that coincided are gross overreach of judicial authority and is unacceptable. It takes little to sully someone's reputation and years to build one.

"However this plays out, the Devyani we have all come to know will weather it with dignity. This episode has caused her and her family deep pain and I can only hope the semblance of normalcy returns soon," Vijayan wrote.

PTI

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