Khobragade row: US embassy told to stop commercial activities

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The US has been told that commercial activities being undertaken from inside the American embassy premises in Delhi should be stopped by Jan 16, an indication that things are far from settled in the prolonged diplomatic row between the countries over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

    Support TwoCircles

    Cranking pressure on the US over the handcuffing and strip-search of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade, all US diplomatic vehicles flouting rules will also attract penalties.

    According to government sources, several commercial activities were being undertaken under the aegis of the American Community Support Association (ACSA), including a restaurant/bar, video club, bowling alley, swimming pool, sports field, beauty parlour and gym.

    “The US has been asked to provide the tax returns filed by it with Indian authorities for the commercial activities which are afforded through ACSA to non-diplomatic persons, including private American citizens and their families,” informed sources said, not wishing to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

    Indian authorities have cited the provision of such commercial facilities to non-diplomats as a violation of Article 41(3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which stipulates: “The premises of the mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State. ”

    It a related development, it is also understood that US diplomatic vehicles will now attract penalties for all traffic related offenses such as unauthorized parking, not stopping at red light, dangerous driving etc, the sources added.

    “Necessary action against Vehicles with AF (Applied for) number plates is also on the cards,” the sources added.

    The Dec 12 handcuffing and strip-search of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, caused widespread outrage in India.

    She has been accused of visa fraud and underpaying her child’s nanny inviolation of US laws, charges she has denied. India has demanded the US take back all charges against Khobragade and offer an unconditional apology.

    While the US maintains her consular status does not provide immunity from arrest, India has said she has been an advisor at India’s Permanent Mission in the UN from August, which gave her full diplomatic immunity under the Geneva Conventions.

    India has already withdrawn the airport passes given to US diplomats in India and the special diplomatic identity cards issued to them as part of reciprocal measures after the arrest of Khobragade.