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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Diplomat’s father cries foul, asks America to apologise

Dharmendra Jore, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 13, 2013
First Published: 16:11 IST(13/12/2013) | Last Updated: 16:12 IST(13/12/2013)

The family of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, 39, who was arrested in New York on charges of alleged visa fraud and exploiting her housekeeper, has accused the American government of violating human rights and international laws.
 
Devyani’ father Uttam Khobragade, former IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, has sought apology from the law enforcing agencies in New York and the US government.
 
“It’s horrible. They are harassing a good diplomat. How can they (Manhattan's US Attorney Preetinder Singh "Preet" Bharara and his team) arrest Devyani when she was at her daughter’s school?” Uttam said.
 
Uttam said that the US Attorney had breached international law because the case pertaining to the housekeeper Sangeeta Richard was being heard in the Delhi High Court.
 
“Do they (the US) have jurisdiction in New Delhi and India as well? The country which talks much about human rights is itself violating them,” he said.
 
He said that the Delhi High Court had issued an interim injunction in September to restrain complainant Sangeeta from instituting any actions or proceedings against Devyani outside India on the terms or conditions of her employment.
 
Uttam is expected to meet India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Friday evening.
 
“I’m happy that the ministry has promised us to resolve the issue and get justice for Devyani.”
 
Legal woes add for family under scanner for Adarsh scam
The arrest in New York has added to legal woes of the Khobragade family because Devyani is also fighting a controversy related to Mumbai’s Adarsh housing society scam.

She is one of kin of senior bureaucrats who were allotted flats in the society which is under scanner for usurping land meant for housing defense personnel.

Devyani’s father was general manager of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking when floor space index (FSI) of a neighboring BEST bus depot was transferred to the society for Rs. 6 crore.

The FSI indicates the total construction area that could be built legally on a land of particular size.

Since Adarsh did not have much FSI Left to build more floors to accommodate extra members, it had asked for buying FSI of BEST depot. The proposal was expedited at all government levels.
 
The Adarsh controversy
Promoted by serving/retired bureaucrats and defense personnel, south Mumbai’s Adarsha housing society, is accused of grabbing defense land meant for housing Kargil and other war heroes.

Successive chief ministers and serving bureaucrats, who got flats for their kin and supporters, are under scanner for bending rules to support the society. Devyani Khobragde is one of them.

While the Bombay high court is hearing the matter, a state-appointed panel has submitted its probe report to the government. The report is expected to be tabled in the ongoing session of state legislature in Nagpur next week.


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