Friday, January 10, 2014

Divyani Khobragade back to home. Justice denied to her maid Sangeeta

After much embarrassment and diplomatic hiccups US has ordered Indian diplomat Divyani Khobragade to leave the country. She is on her way back to home. Ms Khobragade was arrested last month for fraud which sparked a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Washington.
She is accused of making false statement in the Visa application of her maid and not paying her according the agreement. Action was taken on the complaint of her Indian maid. She has been indicted on criminal charges in the court but India refused to waive her immunity and so stalled proceedings against the erring civil servant. Khobragade is also accused of giving false information in her application for a flat in controversial Adarsh Society.
Since she belongs to diplomat class, authorities in India stressed more for her immunity and paid no attention on her bringing bad name for the country by her wrong doing. India demanded an apology from Washington for the humiliation of Khobragade. She was handcuffed on the street. When she protested she was handed over to the Marshal Police which is trained to deal with hard core criminals. The marshals per routine strip her necked and even subjected her to cavity search. She was lock up with drug-mafia and flash traders.
After she was ordered to leave the country, she was quick to take a flight from New York’s John F Kennedy International airport on Thursday night. A senior US official confirmed that she is headed to India. In Bombay her father also confirmed the news.
Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry in India told in New Deli Chancellor Khobragade reiterated her innocence of charges filed against her, at the time of her departure to India. Mr. Akbaruddin further added that Khobragade had affirmed her gratitude to the government of India, in particular to the External Affairs Minister, Salman Khursheed who has vowed in the Rajya Sabha to bring her back without being convicted.
For the first time, since Independence the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) was so outraged over an alleged insult to Indian sovereignty and just to save one of their own from the US laws, the lobby flexed its muscles. The reaction was unprecedented. The government also played into the hands of the IFS lobby, totally ignoring the plight of a poor house maid Sangeeta Richards, who is also an Indian.
As she heads back to India, her domestic help Ms Sangeeta Richard on Friday broke her silence and claimed that she suffered while working for Khobragade and asked other domestic workers not to let anyone "exploit" them.
In her first public statement, Sangeeta said she had decided to come to the US hoping to work for a few years to support her family and had planned to later return to India. "I never thought that things would get so bad here, that I would work so much that I did not have time to sleep or eat or have time for myself," she said in a statement released by the anti-trafficking group Safe Horizon, which is representing her in the case against the erring Indian diplomat.
The poor house maid
She said she had tried to return to India because of the treatment meted out to her while she was working for Khobragade. "Because of this treatment, I requested that I return to India but that request was denied." "I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did - you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you," Sangeeta said.
Safe Horizon welcomed the indictment, saying it "demonstrates the seriousness with which the US government treats labor exploitation." "I hope that this case sends a clear message to diplomats and consular officials that the US will not tolerate the exploitation of workers and marks the beginning of an increase in prosecution of these cases," said Avaloy Lanning, senior director of the organisation's anti-trafficking programme.
In this case of bringing bad name to India by a diplomat, the biased was so visible that while government risked its relations with India to bring her back unpunished, but did not care for poor housekeeper and her family which is also an India. Clearly the Government played into the hands of the IFS lobby.
Indian diplomatic corps wants the rest of India to believe that Devyani is a victim. In its knee-jerk reaction to the incident the Government removed security barricades outside the US embassy, withdrew several privileges enjoyed by US staff of Embassy and finally asking the US embassy to shut its bar and spa have proved that our diplomats can go to any extent to save their skin in the name of national 'honour'.
A large section of the media also fell in hysteria without bothering to ascertain the facts went on a high decibel anti-America campaign. Opposition leaders also did the same, including main opposition party leaders accusing the Government for not protecting Khobragade fully.
However many right thinking Indians were horrified by the reaction. There have been much more serious incidents of US insulting India in the past. The media and some political parties wanted the government to act against the US. The same IFS lobby was keeping quite. It was almost unconcerned. They did not want the Indian government to act against the US. They were advising the government not to do what the media and political parties want the government to do. As a seasoned journalists said, "They were busy wining and dining with the same Americans."
As per the US laws, what Devyani has allegedly committed is a serious crime. She is accused of ill treating her maid and not paying the stipulated salary.
All of us know how the rich and influential treat their servants and maids at home. Nobody would be surprised, if we do the same thing even in America? There is no reason for us not to believe the version of Sangeeta Richards on her employer Devyani.
Disregarding Sangeeta's rights and plights, the Indian government also backed Devyani and even threatened Sangeeta with arrest.

The whole incident has exposed Indian hypocrisy and its established classes utter contempt for the under privileged. All of them wanted to save a well paid, well 'educated', well off diplomat from going to jail in the US for an alleged serious crime. How can Devyani, claim that she wants to fight for the rights of Dalit women, if she can't treat her own poor maid with minimum dignity?

No comments: