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India downgrades privileges of US diplomats, wants details of local staff

New Delhi, Dec 17 (PTI): India on Tuesday retaliated strongly to the arrest of its deputy consul general in New York by withdrawing privileges enjoyed by US diplomats and their families and stopping import clearances for the embassy.

Asking all consulate personnel and their families to turn in their ID cards immediately, the government has also sought key information such as salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at the consulates and by consulate officers and families including as domestic helps.

“The government has asked for all US Consulate personnel's ID cards and that of their families immediately. These will now be downgraded on par with what the US provides to our consulates in US,” sources said.

The government has asked the US to provide it with visa information and other details of all teachers at US schools and pay and bank accounts of Indians in these schools.

Apart from these measures, Government has stopped all import clearances for the US embassy including for liquor.

Also, the traffic barricades near the US embassy on Nyaya Marg here, barring the picket, will be lifted.

The steps followed the arrest last week of India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragade, on visa fraud charges relating to a domestic help she had taken from India. Khobragade was arrested handcuffed on a public road, but later released on bail.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has already summoned US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issued a demarche in this regard.

The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of Indian government who cancelled their meetings with visiting US Congressional delegation.