India vows to bring back arrested diplomat 'at any cost'

 A U.S. embassy security guard (left) and an Indian policeman stand in front of the main gate of the embassy as the bulldozer (unseen) removes the security barriers, in New Delhi Dec 17, 2013. Indian authorities removed security barriers in fron
 A U.S. embassy security guard (left) and an Indian policeman stand in front of the main gate of the embassy as the bulldozer (unseen) removes the security barriers, in New Delhi Dec 17, 2013. Indian authorities removed security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday apparently in retaliation for the arrest and alleged heavy-handed treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India vowed on Wednesday to bring home a female diplomat who was arrested and strip-searched in New York last week "at any cost" amid rising anger against the United States over her treatment.

"It is my duty to bring the lady back and we have to restore her dignity and I will do it at any cost," Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told India's parliament.

He also confirmed a string of diplomatic reprisals against the US for the incident, including ordering the return of identity cards and airport passes for US consular officials that speed up travel in India.

Other measures include halting clearance for the US embassy of imported goods including alcohol and sales of items within India such as cars.

India will also demand employment contract and bank account details of Indian nationals employed by US consular officials around the country.

"I don't think this has ever been done in this country in the past," Mr Khurshid said.

"Today, our paramount concern, interest and determination is to be able to intervene effectively and specifically to ensure the dignity of our officer is absolutely preserved," he added.

The comments came after Ms Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul general in New York, described how she endured "repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches" after her arrest last Thursday.

Ms Khobragade, 39, was arrested as she dropped her children at school for allegedly underpaying her Indian domestic helper, and for lying on the helper's visa application form.

Rattled by the scale of the anger in India, the US State Department sought to calm tensions and said the arrest should not be allowed to damage bilateral relations.

The Indian media meanwhile have hailed the government for its strong line as Ms Khobragade's case dominated television news bulletins, in the build-up to national elections next year.