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India asks US embassy to shut down club by January 16 over Devyani episode

Stepping up its offensive, India has asked the US embassy to stop certain “commercial activities” which could lead to a freeze on duty-free imports at the American Community Support Association (ACSA) as part of measures to put pressure on America in the Devyani Khobragade case.The US embassy in New Delhi has been told to stop these activities by January 16.New Delhi had questioned the “commercial activities” being carried out at the embassy as the standoff between the two countries over the arrest of the Indian diplomat in New York continues.Khobragade was arrested and later released on bail on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her domestic help, India feels that duty-free import facilities are being misused by “non-diplomatic personnel”, including private firms and friends of the US embassy.The US extends no such privileges to another country, it told Washington, conveying the decision to move against “non-reciprocal” concessions.
Those who avail the ACSA facilities are allowed a bottle of hard liquor, two bottles of wine and 12 cans of beer a week at a much lower price than the market rate as these are duty free.The ACSA members also get access to Out of India restaurant, Delhi Diner Snacks Bar, the Great Escape Bar, Windward Café Poolside Bar and a cafeteria on payable basis. They also enjoy free use of a gymnasium, swimming pool, bowling alley and a tennis court. India also pointed out certain queries in the ACSA membership form.One of the questions is about the nature of the non-diplomatic duty of the applicant, who is also asked to submit a letter from the company certifying employment and duration of stay.New Delhi also cited special affiliate membership as another instance of misuse of privileges.The US embassy spokesperson did not reply to an email sent seeking response.Khobragade’s lawyer, Daniel Arshack, had sought an extension of the indictment period in a letter to the judge on Monday.Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara’s office is moving to indict Khobragade sometime this week, opposing her lawyer’s plea for more time.The indictment has to be filed within 30 days of arrest.Bharara’s office has not indicated a date for filing the indictment, but told a New York court it does not need extra time.

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