In a tit-for-tat move, India on Friday asked the US Embassy here to “withdraw” a counsellor level officer immediately.

India sought the withdrawal of the American diplomat after the US on Thursday sought the withdrawal of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat from India’s Permanent Mission in New York. The announcement in Delhi was made even as Khobragade was on a flight back to India where she is expected by late Friday evening.

The US diplomat has been given a short duration of time although the exact details were not revealed. Generally, a diplomat is allowed 48 hours to leave, but the US diplomat has been reportedly given slightly more time.

“This officer, we have reason to believe, was closely involved in the processes relating to the case under consideration and also subsequent unilateral actions by the US side,” official sources said.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested and handcuffed as she was dropping her daughter to school on visa fraud charges and for underpaying her housekeeper, Sangeeta Richards, whom she had taken along with her from India.

The treatment meted out to the Indian diplomat, saw India Parliamentarians cutting across party lines asking the Indian Government to take strong retaliatory action against the US.

The Government took a slew of measures, including seeking details of all Indians working in the US Embassy and consulates in India, apart from withdrawing the identity cards given to US consulates’ employees and their families.

This is not the first time the two countries have withdrawn diplomatic officials.

In September 1981, India sought the withdrawal of George C.B. Griffin, a Political Counsellor at the US Embassy here.

(This article was published on January 10, 2014)
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