India downgrades US diplomats' immunity

Updated: 2013-12-25 10:07


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NEW DELHI - India Tuesday downgraded the diplomatic immunity of certain category of United States diplomats and withdrew the immunity enjoyed by their family members in reaction to the arrest of an Indian woman diplomat by US police earlier this month, said local media.

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 offenses, said Press Trust of India.

The move is seen as a step forward by India in its standoff with United States over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on Dec 12.

Tuesday also saw the end of the deadline for surrendering the identity cards provided to US diplomats as was ordered by India.

"India has decided to take firm reciprocal steps following the end of the deadline for surrender of identity cards provided to US consular staff in India," Indo-Asian News Service quoted unnamed sources as saying.

New Delhi has also decided that no cards will be given to family members of US consular officials, as the same courtesy is not extended to Indians in the United States, according to the news service.

India earlier used to extend cards to the family members of US missions.

The government also took a series of measures to downgrade privileges granted to US diplomats here after Khobragade was arrested on criminal charges of visa fraud and making false statements about how much she paid her Indian housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard.

India Tuesday also said US consular staff will now only be permitted to import their requirements during the first six months instead of three years on assuming office.

Senior officials dismissed the concerns regarding security of US diplomatic officials in India, according to Indo-Asian News Service.

"India takes its obligations under the Vienna Convention very seriously and there has not been any loosening of security...There is no change in the security situation and all US diplomatic and consular officials are being provided security as before," the news service quoted unnamed sources as saying.