India politicians snub US delegation over diplomat arrest

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Top Indian politicians said on Tuesday that they snubbed a visiting United States congressional delegation over the arrest of a senior diplomat in New York as outrage grows in India over the "humiliating" incident.

India's opposition candidate for prime minister, Mr Narendra Modi, said he had "refused" to meet the US visitors over the arrest last week of deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud allegations.

"Refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill-treatment meted to our lady diplomat in USA," Mr Modi said in a tweet.

The Speaker of India's Lower House of Parliament also called off a meeting with the US group scheduled for Monday, her office said, over Ms Khobragade's arrest while she was dropping her children off at school.

"Four US Congressmen visiting India had an appointment with the speaker Meira Kumar but we cancelled it on Monday morning on her directions," senior parliamentary official U. S. Saxena told AFP.

He said "the reason for cancellation of this meeting was the treatment meted out to our diplomat in New York".

The snubs came after India last week summoned the US ambassador to protest at the arrest, with a Foreign Ministry official saying then India was "shocked and appalled" at the US handling of the incident.

Anger over the incident has been mounting in the Indian press with front-page reports Tuesday claiming Ms Khobragade had been "strip-searched and confined with drug addicts" after her arrest.

Reports have said that the New York-based Ms Khobragade was arrested and handcuffed in public for allegedly lying on the US visa application for an Indian national who worked for her as a domestic help.

The Indian Embassy in Washington said on Friday that the detention was based on "allegations raised by the officer's former India-based domestic assistant".

The domestic worker had "absconded" from her employer in June and was already the subject of an injunction issued by the High Court in Delhi, the embassy added in a statement on its website.

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