Indian media criticise Indian diplomat's arrest in US

A police officer stops a group of Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian consular officer in New York, outside the U.S consulate in Hyderabad, India, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.
Image caption The arrest of Devyani Khobragade has sparked protests in India

Media in India criticise the treatment meted out to an Indian diplomat in the US after she was arrested over allegations of visa fraud and underpaying her Indian maid.

Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general, was handcuffed upon arrest last week and strip-searched afterwards.

The Times of India feels the arrest of Ms Khobragade violates an international law that provides immunity to diplomats.

"Such harsh treatment is in clear violation of the courtesies extended to a consular official," the paper says.

The diplomat denies visa fraud and making false statements over allegations that she underpaid her Indian maid.

India on Tuesday ordered a series of reprisals that included removing security barricades around the US embassy in Delhi and snubbing of a visiting US delegation.

Diplomatic theatrics?

Most papers are unanimous in criticising the manner of the official's arrest, but warn India against taking steps that can possibly spark a diplomatic row.

The Times of India adds that Delhi must try and extract an apology from Washington on the issue, but prevent it from escalating into an "all-out political row".

"To allow American pursuit of the rule of law on their territory to spiral into a diplomatic standoff speaks very poorly of India's foreign service and the politicians," says The India Express in an editorial.

Hindi daily Dainik Jagarn too says the "insulting arrest" of the diplomat was "unprecedented" but urges India to be reasonable in its reprisals.

"India must take actions that respect human behaviour. The world should not get the message that India is acting like the US and not respecting rules and regulations," it says.

The Hindustan Times says the the manner of Ms Khobragade's arrest is "unfortunate" but adds that it is "hardly the stuff of strategic relationships and geopolitics".

The paper goes on to say that such relatively small issues are blown out of proportion largely because "there is little substance in bilateral ties".

It also adds an interesting thought in the debate about low wages given to Indian diplomats by the government.

"The core issue is an economic gap: a maid in Manhattan has to be paid more than a full-time Indian diplomat in Manhattan...Until this is resolved, almost every Indian diplomat with household help will be skirting the law when they live in a high-wage economy," it says.

Meanwhile, a fight between two groups of boys escalated into a riot at a juvenile correction home in New Delhi, the Hindustan Times reports.

"More than 80 boys created ruckus and took to rioting inside the home. Police said the boys went on a rampage and resorted to stone pelting and arson that continued till late in the night," the paper reports.

In the confusion, 15 boys managed to flee the correction home, the paper adds.

And finally, The Times of India tells the story of an Indian gay couple who got married in 2011 and continue to live together despite a recent court decision that criminalised homosexuality in India.

The couple live in the northern state of Haryana and are "unperturbed" by the Supreme Court's decision that makes their marriage illegal, the paper reports.

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