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India denies US cop’s arrest was in retaliation

world Updated: Apr 05, 2014 23:16 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Manny Encarnacion

India on Saturday dismissed charges by US media and lawmakers that a New York police officer's recent arrest in New Delhi was in retaliation for the Khobragade slight.

A spokesperson for the Indian consulate in New York said in a statement it was "ridiculous" to suggest there was any connection between the two incidents.

Officer Manny Encarnacion was arrested at the New Delhi airport on March 10 when three live bullets were found in his baggage during screening, said the spokesperson.

"In India, this is a violation of the Arms Act," it was added.

Encarnacion, 49, was visiting India to meet his wife, Vida, who is a student living in Iran. They married recently. The officer is now free on bail, awaiting the next step.

"India is getting revenge for Nannygate," said a New York Post report that quoted an Indian police officer telling Encarnacion, "You guys like to strip-search our diplomats."

"Nannygate" was a reference to Devyani Khobragade's arrest in New York last December that precipitated a crisis in India-US relations that some have described as the worst in decades.

In a letter to secretary of state John Kerry, New York's Republican congressman Peter King called the police officer's arrest an "excessive act by the Indian government".

"I have absolutely no doubt that this is blatant retaliation," he told a TV news channel.

Democratic senator Chuck Schumer told another TV channel, "I think their (India's) behavior is sort of juvenile."

The new story broke in Washington on Friday, 25 days after the arrest. The US government and New York police had known about the incident all along, and had been working towards his release.

The state department played down the police officer's arrest, and to a specific question if it could be seen as retribution for Khobragade's arrest, spokesperson Marie Harf said, "We've said we want to get past some of the tensions that have been there over the past several months and move on. I just can't speak to this specific case."