NEW DELHI, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The diplomatic stand-off between India and the U.S. simply failed to end with Washington on Friday refusing to drop charges against an Indian woman diplomat who was arrested last week in New York and subsequently strip-searched for alleged visa fraud and underpaying her maid.
Hours later, India also hit back at the U.S. reiterating its demand for an apology, insisting that the arrest of its deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, was "unacceptable", and stressing America should understand that "times have changed".
"The U.S. is playing games with India. But America must understand that the world has changed, times have changed and India has changed," Indian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told the media in the national capital.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had reportedly called up Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and expressed his "regret" over the issue in bid to defuse the situation.
But the U.S. federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, under whose instructions Khobragade was arrested in New York last Thursday, tried to justify the arrest, saying that "Khobragade was accorded courtesies well beyond what other defendants... are accorded. The agents arrested her in the most discreet way possible".
The Indian External Affairs Ministry on Thursday clearly refused to buy the U.S. prosecutor's version. "There is only one victim in this case, that victim is Devyani Khobragade. There were no courtesies in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat, " the ministry said.
The ministry also questioned America's decision to allow the family of Sangeeta Richards, the domestic help of the accused Indian diplomat, to move to the U.S., despite a legal case pending against the maid and her husband in this country.
The 39-year-old diplomat, who has been shifted to India's permanent mission in the United Nations to ensure full diplomatic immunity to her, deny all the charges which carry a punishment of up to 10 years in jail for visa fraud and five years for underpaying her maid.
India has taken a series of reprisal steps, scaling down diplomatic privileges extended to American diplomats in this country, including withdrawal of diplomatic ID cards issued by the government, taking away airport passes and removing extra security barricades outside the U.S. Embassy in the national capital.
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Kerry expresses "regret" over diplomatic row with India
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