Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fwd: Bharara: Conspiracy and cover-up on Devyani row. Untold spy story. Gates open: Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

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From: Avadhuth Kakodkar
Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Subject: Fwd: Bharara: Conspiracy and cover-up on Devyani row. Untold spy story. Gates open: Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

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From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 8:42 AM
Subject: Bharara: Conspiracy and cover-up on Devyani row. Untold spy story. Gates open: Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

Bharara: Conspiracy and cover-up on Devyani row. Untold spy story. Who is the informant? Who is being shielded?
Who kept the doors open for evacuation?


| Friday , December 20 , 2013 |

How India left gates open for 'evacuation'
- Devyani filed complaint on July 3 but officials waited and did little to plug loopholes

New Delhi, Dec. 19: If America "evacuated" the husband of the nanny from right under the nose of the Indian establishment, an unsuspecting New Delhi appeared to have unwittingly facilitated it by leaving the gates wide open for as long as three months.

Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat who was arrested in New York, had sent a complaint against housekeeper Sangeeta Richard and her husband Philip to Delhi police on July 3 this year. Two days earlier, the same mail had been sent to the external affairs ministry, too.

But, for some reason, Delhi police registered the first information report only in October. The long delay suggests Indian officials reposed unquestioning faith in the Americans or did not take the complaint seriously — suspicions that are strengthened by the fact that Philip was not arrested even two months after the FIR had been registered.

Which meant Philip, accused of being a co-conspirator in an extortion bid, could be "evacuated" without any daredevil operation by the Americans. He applied for a visa, they issued it and he flew out with the couple's two children on December 10, unchallenged by the hawk-eyed Indian immigration.

On July 3, Devyani had lodged a complaint with Delhi police against Sangeeta and Philip for cheating and hatching a conspiracy "to procure Indian passport and enter the USA to work as freelance servant and earn huge money".

The diplomat had also sent a draft of the complaint to the ministry of external affairs in Delhi on July 1, a little over a week after the maid disappeared from her official residence.

"I am sending an FIR against Sangeeta Richard and Philip Richard… for fraud, wilful deceit, harassment and extortion," said the opening line of Devyani's mail to Delhi police.

But the FIR was registered only on October 9 at Fatehpur Beri police station in south Delhi. The FIR was registered under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 387 (an extortion-related charge) and cheating (420) against the couple.

"Had the police acted promptly on the basis of Khobragade's complaint, he would have been behind bars," said an IPS officer.

In her email complaint to then police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, Devyani said Sangeeta and Philip, both residents of 45/S 1, Sultanpur Colony in Mehrauli in south Delhi, cheated her. The mail lists an accusation of making an attempt to "earn huge money" but does not elaborate on the extortion demand mentioned in the opening sentence.

Indian officials had yesterday said that a demand for $10,000 (Rs 6 lakh) was made when Devyani met Sangeeta at a Manhattan attorney's office on July 8 — five days after the email was sent to the police. It is not known if Delhi police were later updated on the fresh allegation.

Asked about the FIR delay, senior Delhi police officers said they were asked to "go slow" in the case by officials of the foreign ministry.

The ministry officials attributed the delay to "ongoing negotiations" between Devyani and Sangeeta. "The police were told to register an FIR in the case after the negotiations failed in September," said a senior official of the foreign ministry.

But the official did not explain why the police did not arrest Philip even after the FIR was registered on October 9. A Delhi court had issued an arrest warrant against Sangeeta in November. Yet, neither the police nor other agencies kept track of her husband.

In September, the diplomat had moved Delhi High Court, which passed an injunction barring Sangeeta from filing any criminal or civil charges outside India. Some police officers said the guarantee might also have made the ministry complacent.

M.V. Kini, counsel for Devyani, said: "Given the way police work in our country, it is not surprising that the cops took three months to act on the complaint and lodge an FIR."

In the complaint, Devyani said that on August 17, 2012, she was posted in New York and was looking for a domestic help to take care of her household. "Both accused approached me stating that they are not having jobs and need money for children's education," according to the email to the police.

In the complaint, Sangeeta is mentioned as Accused No. 1 and Philip as Accused No. 2.

The complaint said Sangeeta told Devyani to take her to New York as household assistant for a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 and free accommodation and food.

On this promise, Sangeeta was given an official passport. "Both the accused were fully aware about the official passport and that it is the property of Government of India and she can hold it as long as she works with her as domestic help," the letter said.

Sangeeta was provided an air ticket by the government because of her status as domestic assistant. "She was in charge of kitchen, baby-sitting and other domestic work from her landing at New York," the letter said.

In mid-March 2013, Sangeeta asked Devyani whether she could work outside on her off-days, to which the diplomat told the nanny that her position as a domestic assistant on official passport with dependent visa did not entitle her to such work, according to the complaint.

"On June 18, Sangeeta went to Devyani's office at the consulate-general of India for the first time and said that that she felt overburdened by work at home and would feel happy to stay and work outside her employer's house from 7pm to 7am," the complainant said.

Devyani again explained to Sangeeta that her well-being and conduct during stay in New York was the diplomat's responsibility and she could not allow her to work outside. On June 21, the complainant went to New Jersey for the weekend.

When she returned on June 23, Sangeeta was not at home. "As every Sunday, Sangeeta used to go to church and meet friends at beauty parlour, Devyani treated her absence as routine…," the complaint said.

However, when she did not return on Sunday night, Devyani tried calling Sangeeta over phone but there was no response.

On enquiry, Devyani's husband told her that Sangeeta had left the house on June 21 afternoon, saying she was stepping out for shopping.

The diplomat called Sangeeta's husband on June 24. Philip said he was not aware of the whereabouts of his wife. Thereafter, she checked Sangeeta's room and found that she had left with most of her belongings and the passport.

Devyani then requested Philip to send a missing person complaint by email so that a case could be registered with the local police in New York. Philip refused to do so, the complaint said.

"After repeated requests, Philip confirmed to the complainant that his wife contacted him on June 28 but he did not give the phone number. It is evident from the conduct of both accused that they made a false promise to work as domestic assistant just to procure official passport and enter the USA by misusing position as domestic assistant and thereafter to work as freelance servant and earn huge money," the letter said.

Published on Dec 19, 2013
Devyani the only victim in this case India rebuts Bharara
Responding strongly to Preet Bharara, the US federal prosecutor whose decision to charge highly ranked diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York last week created a storm in India, the government said that the 39-year-old diplomat is the only victim in this case.

Diplomat's arrest: US distances itself from Preet Bharara's comments; India wants apology, case dropped

TNN | Dec 20, 2013, 01.59 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The American "regret", conveyed on Wednesday night by US secretary of state John Kerry, has left India unimpressed. New Delhi on Thursday clarified that it has two demands - that the case against Khobragade be dropped and that the US tender an apology for the diplomat's humiliation.

This nudged Washington to follow up Kerry's call with more overtures. Late on Thursday evening, US under secretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman called up foreign secretary Sujatha Singh to convey that the US government does not share US attorney Preet Bharara's views on this case. She also offered a consular dialogue between India and US to resolve the problems of domestic staff and immunity issues.

Sherman indicated that Khobragade would get her new diplomatic ID card from the State Department. Khobragade applied for her UN accreditation on Thursday and expects to get it in a day, following which she will apply to State Department for her US ID card. Indians are now confident she will get it within days, which will grant her full diplomatic immunity.

That will also enable her to retrieve her passport and India could bring her back or post her elsewhere. For the longer term, India has asked the US for full diplomatic immunity to be extended to all consular officials of both countries. At present, Indian officials in consulates don't enjoy immunity, while after India's retaliatory steps, US officials have been denied theirs.

India is also keen that the US makes necessary amends to bring back bilateral ties on an even keel. While demanding that the Khobragade case be dropped, foreign minister Salman Khurshid also said, "Our relationship has a lot of investment, it is an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly."

Khurshid said the only logical step the US can take at this point is to drop the case against Khobragade. "The case does not deserve to be pursued," he told journalists. Earlier, minister for parliamentary affairs Kamal Nath said that India was expecting an apology from the US.

Although John Kerry tried the healing touch by expressing regret over the treatment in a phone call to India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, New Delhi indicated it was not enough. In fact, India snubbed Kerry by not making available his counterpart, Salman Khurshid, and said nothing short of an outright apology would suffice.

The White House too stepped into the picture after President Obama was briefed about the spat. The President's spokesman Jay Carney repeated the State Department brief about understanding "that this is a sensitive issue for many in India, and we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest," but a more sincere expression of unqualified regret and contrition were absent.

On not taking Kerry's call, Khurshid said, "I was not available when John Kerry called. We are trying to lock a time for a call this evening or may be tomorrow. Kerry is in the Philippines and there is a huge time difference." He added he was "looking forward" to the conversation.

The window of opportunity for both countries is actually until the indictment hearing on the case which is scheduled for early January. The Indian priority is to retrieve Khobragade's diplomatic passport so she can be brought back to India. Khobragade had to submit her passport to the court and furnish a $250,000 bond, signed by other diplomatic colleagues, also unprecedented.

Sources said the US could utilize the transfer of Khobragade to the UN mission as a way to restore full diplomatic immunity and tell Bharara's office that the case does not hold and be allowed to lapse. Since India has not contested the fact that there was a discrepancy in the statements made by Khobragade for the visas, it is possible the Indian government could use this to get Khobragade out of the US.

The maid, Sangeeta Richard could continue to file another case against Khobragade at another court. Even if the State Department agrees to a change in Khobragade's immunity status, she would continue to be dogged by court summons.

Indians point to two instances. In the first, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor in Lahore who had been arrested for murder was declared to have full diplomatic immunity by no less than US president Barack Obama. Lahore is a consular post, and by US law Davis was not eligible for immunity.

The second is a more recent case. A group of Russian diplomats targeted by Preet Bharara's office for social security fraud were not arrested at the last minute, because the State Department stepped in and told Bharara's office that all of them enjoyed full diplomatic immunity, even though many of the diplomats were nowhere as senior as Khobragade.

In recent times, former ISI chief Shuja Pasha was also declared to have full immunity, even though he was listed as an accused in a 26/11 case in a New York court. Sources said it happened because Pakistan threatened to cut off intelligence cooperation. India and US are yet to get to that stage.

S. Kalyanaraman

sent from samsung galaxy note, so please excuse brevity

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