Discussion on Twitter
Dec 20, 2013
Her allegations of abuse have seen her diplomat employer arrested and triggered an international furor.
But now, a leaked letter home, written by housekeeper Sangeeta Richard, reveals her to have given her family in India a very different account of her life in New York to the one of ‘virtual slavery’ she has now alleged.
The letter was posted by diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s sister, Sharmistha, on her Facebook page as part of passionate defence of her sibling and rebuttal of the allegations leveled against her.
It was written in December 2012, just one month after her arrival in New York.
Mrs Khobragade does not say how she came to possess the text in which Mrs Richard described the Khobragade family and Dr Khobragade in particular as ‘very nice.’
She wrote: ‘This family is very nice. I’m not feeling I’m her servant. Children call me “Thai” – that means elder brother’s wife. They call me Sangeeta Thai. Madam is very nice.
‘Every day she has a smile.’
Mrs Richard, 42, who is originally from Kerala, went onto claim that she received helped with her maid work allowing her ‘spare time’ and described the house into which the family were about to move: ‘Four bedroom, big sized and one big hall downstairs two rooms, upstairs two rooms.
‘My room is separate. Downstairs is lawn.’
She explained that until the family moved in their new home on the Upper East Side they were staying at The Beekman Tower Hotel and added: ‘Their window looks out at very nice buildings.’
She said that every day she prayed for her mother before going to sleep and promised to call and talk on Facebook ‘when master gives me a new SIM.’
‘She ended the lett er, written in Hindi, with the admission: ‘I am trying to talk in English but I can’t – I forget. So bad 🙂 Sangeeta.’
Earlier her mother-in-law Agnes, told the Indian Express, that Sangeeta had ‘always wanted to work abroad.’
She said: ‘I had reservations about the marriage but my son was in a hurry.’
The couple courted for three years before marrying. Agnes, claimed Mrs Richard left the marital home after just three days – returning only when she learned she was pregnant.
Following the birth of a daughter the couple moved to Fatehpur Beri in southwest Delhi.
Mrs Richard has not responded directly to the letter.
But attorney Dana Sussman, who is representing her though the non-profit victim assistance agency Safe Horizon last night spoke of her ‘frustration and disappointment’ that focus had slipped from ‘crimes that were committed’ to ‘the criminal defendant.’
She pointed out that the case was about Dr Khobragade allegedly lying to the federal government about the wages she was paying Mrs Richard.
Mrs Richard has claimed she as paid just $3.31 an hour, below minium wage.
In a statement to the Press Trust of India Mrs Sussman said: ‘Dr Khobragade did not pay those wages, she grossly underpaid my client and required that my client work far more than she had expected.
‘My client worked for her for quite a while and eventually she decided she could not tolerate the situation any longer.’
She refused to comment on her clients and her family’s whereabouts. Mrs Richard’s husband Philip, and parents flew into America two days before police swooped on Dr Khobragade and arresting her at the gates of her daughter’s Upper East Side school.
Since then the case has escalated to a state of international crisis. News that a female diplomat had been strip-searched and held in a cell with drug addicts and sex workers before posting bail of $250,000 incensed the Indian government and public.
US diplomats in India swiftly found many of their privileges rescinded and safety barriers removed from their embassy in New Delhi.
Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his ‘regret as well as his concern’ over the incident in a telephone call to Indian National Security Advisor Shivshanker Menon. He spoke of his hope that the ‘close and vital relationship with India’ remain unharmed.
But nothing short of dropping the charges – one count of Visa Fraud one of False Statement – against Dr Khobragade seems likely to satisfy Indian authorities in the case which has now been raised in the nation’s parliament.
Against this backdrop Mrs Sussman’s statement continued: ‘Mrs Richard is not on trial here and we think that the message here has been lost in the fact that there are charges against Khobragade for violating US law and those charges relate to the underpayment of wages to a domestic worker.
‘That is the story that has been lost in the diplomatic row that has erupted between US and India.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2526719/Pictured-The-housekeeper-center-international-furor-arrest-Indian-diplomat-boss-kept-virtual-slave-leaked-letter-home-reveals-claimed-not-feel-like-servant-all.html#ixzz2o2eyOU4d
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook