India yesterday hit back at the United States with a series of reprisal measures, including withdrawing identity cards for American consular officials in the country, in protest at the arrest and “barbaric treatment” of a diplomat in New York.
"We have ordered the withdrawal of all ID cards that are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs to the officials at the US consulates across India," ministry sources said.
"These cards facilitate speedy entry and movement of the people carrying them as they travel to Indian airports or other public areas.”
The sources added that the Indian government would also stop all import clearances, including liquor, for the US embassy.
Indian security forces were removing police barricades from the streets near the US Embassy in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
The moves came in the wake of widespread outrage in India over the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade, 39, in New York over visa fraud allegations last week.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the government had initiated measures to address the issue, saying Khobragade's arrest while she was dropping her children at school was "completely unacceptable".
"We have put in motion what we believe would be an effective way of addressing the issue, but have also put in motion such steps that need to be taken to protect her dignity," he told reporters here.
"We have expressed our distress and sense of disquiet, which has been felt very strongly, in the strongest words possible."
The Indian government has also sought information such as that about salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at the consulates and by Consulate officers and families.
Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had earlier summoned US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell and issued a demarche in this regard.
The displeasure was also evident among political leaders and officials of the Indian government who cancelled their meetings with a visiting US Congressional delegation.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde yesterday cancelled his meeting with the US team ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment of Khobragade.
Indian parliament Speaker Meira Kumar had cancelled her meeting with a US Congressional delegation on Monday due to the same reason. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who had a scheduled meeting with the five-member US team, did not meet them apparently for the same reason.