The furore over the arrest and alleged strip search of a female Indian diplomat in New York City last week has taken a fresh twist with the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - the Indian People's Party - suggesting that the Indian government should move to punish US diplomats in retaliation.
India's deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, was accused of submitting false documents to obtain a work visa for her housekeeper in the US. Following an investigation, Khobragade was reportedly handcuffed outside her child’s school and placed in a cell before being granted bail at $250,000.
According to Indian officials, she was also strip-searched, a procedure that has sparked outrage in her homeland, with the country’s national security adviser calling the diplomat’s treatment "despicable and barbaric".
However, Yashwant Sinha, the leader of the BJP, suggested even more immediate sanctions on Wednesday, encouraging the Indian government to punish US diplomats in India who may be involved in gay relationships.
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According to the Times of India, Sinha said: "Media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of US diplomats' companions. 'Companions' means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country, just as paying less wages was illegal in the US. So, why does not the government of India go ahead and arrest them and punish them."
US federal authorities are currently looking into the arrest, with State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, telling the press on Tuesday: "We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India… Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended."