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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

I am under immense stress for my children, says Devyani Khobragade

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 12, 2014
First Published: 12:52 IST(12/1/2014) | Last Updated: 00:39 IST(13/1/2014)

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who arrived in New Delhi after being charged with visa fraud and making false statements in the US, expressed anguish at leaving being her husband and two children in New York.

The 39-year-old diplomat, whose December 12 arrest and strip search triggered a furore in India and a standoff with the US, reached Delhi on Friday night.

Earlier in New York, a grand jury indicted Khobragade for visa fraud and making false statements about employment of her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard. She was told to leave the US immediately after India refused to waive her diplomatic immunity to face trial and transferred her to Delhi.

Read: Here's how the last few hours of the crisis played out

Speaking to Indian daily The Indian Express in Delhi on Saturday, Khobragade said, "I wonder if I will be able to ever reunite with my family, my husband, my little kids. I miss them."

"What if my children choose to study and work in the US? What if I can never return to the US, which I cannot now. Does it mean we will never be able to live together as a family again?" she said.

Read: US should have avoided mini crisis, says Salman Khurshid

"I know I am honest, and I will come out clean. But we do not know how much time it will take and for how long my family will have to suffer due to this," she added.

Charges against Khobragade will remain pending, which means that if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity, she will be tried. She is married to an Indian-American and the couple have two children, both US citizens.

In her newspaper interview, the diplomat said she would continue the fight to clear her name.

Read: Top US leadership feels diplomat row 'most stupid thing to do' on their part

"I have come to India but my stand still needs to be vindicated. And of course, I have been separated from my family, and I am under immense stress for my children," Khobragade said.

"I spoke to my kids for hours last night, and they are already missing me. The four-year-old asked me, 'Mommy, when will you be back home', and I had no answer."

Khobragade’s return seems to have widened the rift between the two sides, with India asking Americans — only the second time ever — to remove an officer from its embassy in Delhi.

Read: Devyani home, but this is a half victory for India

With Khobragade refusing to plead guilty, and the US refusing to drop charges, the best case scenario for India was getting a G-1 visa meant for diplomats working for international organisations such as the US.

However, she can be in trouble if she goes back to the US without such an immunity.  “... the charges will remain pending until such time as she can be brought to court to face the charges, either through a waiver of immunity or the defendant’s return to the United States in a non-immune status...,” Bharara said.

Read: Khobragade moves US court; claims diplomatic immunity from state department


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