Sangeeta Richards: The Forgotten Victim Of Khobragade Affairs
By V. Arun Kumar
23 December, 2013
The recent diplomatic manoeuvres by India against United States after Devyani Khobragade, a diplomat, who was arrested in US for visa fraud might have brought smiles on the faces of Indian elites and nationalists, but the serious issue of under payment of wages has now totally been silenced. Sangeeta Richard, who had filed the complaint against Devyani Khobragade for underpayment of wages has now been dehumanised and turned into 'conspirator'. Indian government while trying to 'restore' dignity of Deputy Counsel General, didn't even bother to look into the allegations put forward by Sangeeta Richard. It seems in India we are very much habituated to payment of low wages that we don't consider it as a crime, for elites it’s a privilege. According to Indian External Affairs Minister, the diplomat is “innocent” and the U.S. action was unwarranted. “It is not illegality that she is accused of, but the illegality she refused to oblige”.
India withdrew all the ‘privileges’ provided to US Embassy staff and removed barricades which were placed in front of US Embassy as part of its diplomatic manoeuvres against United States. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said “we need to keep in mind the simple fact that there is only one victim in this case. That victim is Devyani Khobragade -- a serving Indian diplomat on mission in the United States”.
But what about the case filed by Sangeeta Richards? Indian government, which declared Ms. Khobragade as the “only victim” and naturally reducing Ms. Richards as a “conspirator”, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has initiated a legal process against Ms. Richard to “silence her and attempts were made to compel her to return to India“.
While Indian elites are speaking in same voice and asking for diplomatic 'tit for tat' when one of its diplomat is humiliated and disrespected, but when it comes to humiliating and inhuman treatment meted to thousands of Indian workers in Gulf countries India doesn't even bother to ensure that their basic rights are upheld.
Yes, we all know double standards of US when it comes to diplomatic issues; it rarely respects the norms and rules it speaks for. While India should look into the issue of disrespect of its diplomatic mission by US, India should also look into the charges put forward by Ms. Richard with the same importance. Ms. Khobragade, if guilty, should face the law of the land.
The forgotten victim of Khobradge Affairs, Sangeeta Richards has every right to get justice and it is our duty to ensure that her case is not silenced by Indian elites under the carpet of nationalism.
V. Arun Kumar is a political activist and a student of Masters in International Relations at South Asian University, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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