US-India diplomatic row over Devyani Khobragade's arrest
India and US look to put a lid on Devyani Khobragade row as the Indian consul leaves for home countryFacebook (Devyani Khobragade)

Top Indian and American authorities remain tight-lipped as the diplomatic storm between the two countries over Devyani Khobragade is looking to ease as a result of the Indian consul's departure from the US.

Indian politicians, who fervently demanded an apology from Washington have neither trumpeted Khobragade's departure as a success nor have condemned her indictment.

Khobragade, 39, was the deputy consul-general in New York when she was arrested in broad daylight and handcuffed in public. She was further subjected to strip and cavity searches, angering India where top officials went on to dub the incident as "barbaric".

The US had accused her of underpaying her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard and lying in the maid's visa application.

India, as part of its reprisals, shut down the commercial activities taking place in the US diplomatic post in Delhi and removed security barricades outside the facility, shortly after the "humiliating" arrest of Khobragade.

As Delhi continued to tighten screws on Washington, the Obama administration officials were often pushed to back foot, even as US Secretary of State expressed "regret" over the incident, stopping short of an apology.

American diplomats have also silently expressed displeasure in the manner in which the Khobragade was treated by the police, ignoring the sensitivities surrounding the matter.

Top officials from both sides, nonetheless, have frequently insisted the incident should not undermine the larger Indo-US ties.

Reactions over Khobragade's Indictment and Departure

The latest move – bestowing the Indian envoy with full immunity alongside her indictment on visa fraud charges – is being widely seen as a diplomatic preposition in resolving the month-long crisis, which had the potential to damage the US-India relations.

Although the pro-Khobragade side has welcomed the latest move, her opponents have poured scorn on that.

Khobragade's maid Sangeeta Richard, for the first time since the issue had emerged, said in a statement released by the anti-trafficking group Safe Horizon: "I never thought that things would get so bad here, that I would work so much that I did not have time to sleep or eat or have time to myself. Because of this treatment, I requested that I return to India but that request was denied. I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did - you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you."

On the other hand, Khobragade's father heaped praise on her daughter for withstanding the pressure from various corners. Uttam Khobragade told a press conference "she is a proud Indian giving more importance to the sovereignty of this country and dignity of the judicial system of India over the personal relief being offered and decided that her country's sovereignty is dearer than her personal life and comfort." He alleged that she had been asked to make "compromises" so that she could continue staying in the US.

Crisis Far from Over

While pro-Washington critics have argued the retaliatory measures undertaken by India are "excessive and irresponsible," opponents have said they are not just enough.

Experts have also called for stronger retaliatory measures in India going behind every American diplomat who flouts local rules in order to gain a "bargaining chip" against the US.

They point out the crisis is far from over and has every chance of cropping up in the future – as Khobragade will face the charges in the US.

US attorney Preet Bharara, who is spearheading the case against Khobragade, has underscored the Indian envoy will face the charges if she returns to the US devoid of immunity status.

"We will alert the court promptly if we learn that the defendant returns to the United States in a non-immune capacity, at which time the government will proceed to prosecute this case and prove the charges in the indictment," Bharara said in a letter to the court. An arrest warrant may also be issued following Khobragade's departure from the US.

Khobragade's husband and their two children, all of whom hold US citizenship, are staying back in the US, which means the crisis will have to be resolved on multiple planes.