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Arrest And Punish Partners Of Gay U.S. Diplomats, Says India's Ex-Foreign Minister

"Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them,” said Yashwant Sinha, in response to a growing scandal between India and the U.S.

Posted on December 17, 2013, at 1:17 p.m. ET

A senior member of India's largest opposition party suggested Tuesday that the Indian government should arrest the same-sex partners of U.S. diplomats following last week's Supreme Court ruling reinstating laws against sodomy.

Yashwant Sinha, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the action would be justified as retaliation for the arrest last week of an Indian diplomat in the United States on charges of underpaying her housekeeper, which has strained relations between the two countries. Sinha, a former foreign and finance minister, referenced the Supreme Court's controversial ruling, which prompted protests worldwide.

Speaking outside parliament on Tuesday, Sinha told reporters: "My suggestion to the government of India is, the 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 U.S. So, why doesn't the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them? Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them."

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Sinha made the remarks in response to the arrest of a deputy consul general at India's consulate in New York on Thursday, Dec. 12 on charges of alleged visa fraud. The 39-year-old woman, Devyani Khobragade, was publicly handcuffed while she was dropping her daughter off at school. Her lawyer said she was reportedly subjected to a humiliating strip search and was detained in a cell with hardcore criminals and drug addicts.

She was later released on a $250,000 unsecured bond. Khobragade was accused of lying in the visa application of an Indian woman she had brought to the U.S. as a member of her household staff. She was also accused of paying the woman under the minimum wage.

Indian officials have reacted angrily to Khobragade's treatment with India's national security advisor calling it "despicable and barbaric." A number of high-ranking Indian politicians cancelled their meetings with a visiting U.S. congressional delegation in retaliation to Khobragade's arrest and a formal complaint has been lodged with Nancy Powell, the U.S. ambassador to India.

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