India asks US embassy to stop 'commercial' activities

10 January 2014 04:05 am - 10     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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NEW DELHI: India has told the United States it cannot permit non-diplomats to visit a club at its Delhi embassy, escalating a row over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

Hundreds of expatriate Americans use the American Community Support Association club, which has a bar, swimming pool, restaurant and a beauty parlour within the embassy premises. The club has been in existence for decades.

The embassy must cease all commercial activities benefiting non-diplomatic staff on its premises by Jan 16, a government source with direct knowledge of the dispute told Reuters.

India is furious at the Dec 12 arrest, handcuffing and strip search of its deputy consul in New York, Devyani Khobragade, who prosecutors accuse of underpaying her nanny and lying on a visa application.

Still festering nearly a month on, the row has started to affect the wider relationship between the world's two largest democracies, with one high-level visit already postponed and a visit scheduled for next week by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz now looking doubtful.

India has already taken a number of retaliatory measures and is now stepping up the pressure on Washington ahead of a court appearance by the diplomat due on Jan 13.

The latest move is aimed at closing the embassy's social club to non-diplomats. India says the facilities are tax free because they are located in the embassy grounds.

“Basically the thing is that the provision of such facilities to non-diplomats and not paying taxes is clearly not in accordance with the Vienna convention,” the government source with knowledge of the dispute told Reuters.

“You can't have these facilities inside and not pay taxes and allow non-diplomats,” the source said.

A US embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

India had already curtailed privileges offered to US diplomats to bring them in line with the treatment of Indian envoys to the United States.

Since December, the US ambassador in Delhi can be subjected to airport frisking and most consular staff have reduced levels of immunity.

Concrete barriers were removed from a road near the embassy last month, apparently in retaliation for the loss of a parking spot for the Indian ambassador in Washington.

Known as the American Embassy club, the social centre is located on embassy grounds and along with the American Embassy School is the heart of Delhi life for the families of many expatriate employees of US corporations in India.

India is also preparing to take steps against the embassy school, which it suspects may be employing some staff in violation of visa requirements, the government source said. (Reuters)

  Comments - 10

  • Sonali De Silva Saturday, 11 January 2014 08:24 AM

    What has stopping non-diplomats visiting a club got to do with a diplomat breaking a country law? This happens only in India.

    Ranjith Silvar Friday, 10 January 2014 05:28 AM

    In Sri Lanka, there are two sayings:
    1). If you dine with dogs, you get mites.
    2). The Sweet Jak (vaeaka) tree would get Thunders. (Hena)
    Both apply here.

    lal Friday, 10 January 2014 05:56 AM

    Devyani is between the devil and the deep sea. Stay in US and get handcuffed, body searched or return to New Delhi. End of the celebrated Strategic Partnership?

    mohamed asfar Friday, 10 January 2014 05:59 AM

    go india go. we all with you. teach the arrogant americans some lesson.

    jane Saturday, 11 January 2014 05:14 AM

    yes, there is nothing wrong in this, because indians themselves treat their own people this way in their own land, only they deserve it.

    FOX Friday, 10 January 2014 08:11 AM

    MOHAMED!
    WHAT ARROGANCE? SHE CHEATED INDIAN POOR HOME SERVANT. US HAS RIGHTS TO PUNISH ALL CRIMINALS IN US SOIL.

    dickey bird Saturday, 11 January 2014 01:33 PM

    Do not agree with the action taken by the US authorities . The diplomat should not have been treated like a criminal.

    US bully need to be taken to task.
    America is loosing their mind

    Lankaputhra Friday, 10 January 2014 08:27 AM

    A good lesson for India for going against the friendliest neighbour.
    Americans should check the orifices of other Indians in USA.

    UPALI Friday, 10 January 2014 08:44 AM

    and vote against SL. This is what US is. The biggest crime after the 2nd world war is the US foreign policy.

    sss Saturday, 11 January 2014 02:01 PM

    in sri lanka there is another saying - no politician or their obedient high officials are never charges for anything even murder


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