Could there have been a different end to the story? From India and the diplomat’s perspective, yes: killing, dropping or withdrawing the case against her.
But of all the different outcomes being gamed about on both sides, the US asking Devyani Khobragade to leave the country -- throwing her out in a way -- had seemed least likely.
In fact, it was not among the options at all, taking India completely by surprise, said sources.
The Indian government’s Number 2 option -- if Number 1, case dismissal, was not available -- was to withdraw her as soon as she was accorded full diplomatic immunity.
While serving at the Indian consulate she had limited immunity, according to US laws and practice, which did not protect her from prosecution under local laws.
Upon her arrest on December 12, her passport had been impounded, preventing her from leaving the country. Her transfer to the Indian mission to the UN, it was hoped, would bring full diplomatic immunity that comes with G-1 visa.
A US government official told HT, “It would be almost without precedent to deny such a request except in the event of national security risks, including espionage.”
In short, the US could not have withheld the visa.
But what the US did next took Indian officials by surprise. They were asked to waive the immunity that came with the visa, so her prosecution could proceed.
“The US had to do that so as to not come in the way of legal proceedings and everything required to be done to was done,” a source said.
The US then “requested her departure”. She was not declared persona non grata, which is a serious action, a source said, stressing the word “requested”.