India launches reprisals against US over diplomat arrest

US embassy security personnel watch after barricades were removed in front of the US Embassy in New Delhi on Dec 17, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
US embassy security personnel watch after barricades were removed in front of the US Embassy in New Delhi on Dec 17, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India on Tuesday launched a series of reprisals against the US over a diplomat's arrest in New York, including pulling identity cards for American consular officials in the country, foreign ministry sources said.

"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," a senior ministry source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"These cards facilitate speedy entry and movement of the people carrying them as they travel to Indian airports or other public areas," the source added.

The Indian government would also stop all import clearances for the US embassy including liquor, another foreign ministry source said also on condition of anonymity.

Indian security forces were also removing police barricades from streets near the US embassy in the capital New Delhi, an AFP photographer said, in another apparent measure over the arrest.

The moves come as anger intensifies in India over the arrest last week of deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade in New York over visa fraud allegations, which Indian officials branded "humiliating".

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said on Tuesday the government had "put in motion" measures to address the isssue, 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 effective way of addressing the issue but also (put) in motion such steps that need to be taken to protect her dignity," he told reporters in New Delhi.

"We have expressed our deep distress and sense of disquiet, that has been very, very strongly felt, in strongest words possible."