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MEA to launch yet another inquiry against Devyani Khobragade

Troubles are not at all over yet for diplomat Devyani Khobragade as the government is planning to set up another inquiry against her and this time for violating the gag order that was imposed soon after her arrival here from US in January. 

Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was put under a media gag order by foreign secretary Sujatha Singh in January. Under this order she was not supposed to talk about her case publicly as part of an arrangement with the US. 

As a result, now it seems that the government has firmed up its plans to go for another inquiry against her, which might continue for over five to six months. 

She has already been placed under ‘compulsory waiting’ by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as part of the disciplinary action taken against her for not “officially informing” the government that her children holds dual passports. 

A mother of two, Khobragade was able to obtain US passports for her children as her husband is an American citizen. But the case turns murky as she was also to get for them Indian diplomatic passports.  

Her duties as a ‘Director’ in the Development Partnership Division have been taken away from her and she was put on ‘compulsory waiting’ meaning she will be on MEA’s payroll but will not have a specific work to carry out. 

Meanwhile, as part of the administrative procedure the MEA is currently identifying a “suitable position” for the 39-year old, sources told Business Standard. 

“She has not been suspended. The government is going to decide at an appropriate time where to deploy her while the second inquiry goes on,” said a senior official who did not wish to be identified. 

Khobragade was at the centre of a bitter diplomatic row between India and US over alleged visa fraud and mistreating her domestic help, Sangeeta Richard. She was then posted in New York as a deputy consul general at the Indian consulate there.  

Interestingly, it is learnt that Richard has been granted amnesty and is currently a resident of US under trafficking visa.  

Recently, in a media interview Khobragade has said that she might appeal to the court for putting her on ‘compulsory waiting’ but she is not planning to resign. 

Khobragade was arrested in New York in December last year while dropping her children to school. She had to undergo strip search and rigorous questioning, which triggered not only a row of sorts between India and US, but became of topic of national outrage.

The then UPA government went all out to bring her back. As part of the imbroglio India was seen stripping US diplomats positioned here of all their special entitlements and privileges. Some even say that former US ambassador to India Nancy Powell, who was then posted here also lost her job for mishandling this case. 

Khobragade was allowed to leave US because she was under diplomatic immunity then. But charges against still remains and she will be arrested the moment she lands there in personal capacity. 

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