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Meet Preet Barara, who ordered Devyani Khobragade's arrest

D P Satish, | dp_satish

Updated: December 18, 2013, 2:30 PM IST
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Meet Preet Barara, who ordered Devyani Khobragade's arrest
45-year-old Barara was born in Firozepur in Punjab to a Sikh father and a Hindu mother.

New Delhi: Some call him 'Clint Eastwood' of the law enforcement. Some say he is a 'cow boy' of Manhattan. Preet Barara or Preetinder Barara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York who is accused of committing excesses while arresting Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade is a very controversial figure.

Barara became an attorney in mid-2009 and immediately launched an attack on the law breakers mainly white collar criminals in New York. He hit the headlines when he went after powerful businessman of Indian origin Rajat Gupta and his associates three years ago. It earned him the nickname 'the Wall street buster.

45-year-old Barara was born in Firozepur in Punjab to a Sikh father and a Hindu mother. His parents migrated to the US, when he was a child. He grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey. Barara was a bright student in school and college. He became a lawyer in the early 1990s. In 2012 'Time' magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential persons in the World.

According to the people who have interacted with him, Barara is a very ambitious man. He always wants to be on the top. He even wants to shed his Indian origin image and prove that he is a perfect American.

Media savvy and charming Barara, minces no words when it comes to taking on the powerful people. Before he ordered the arrest of Devyani, he had announced charges against 25 serving and former Russian diplomats and their family members for defrauding Medicaid, an American government owned health care system. The Russians had pocketed over $1.5 million from the scheme.

According to an economist of Indian origin, who has seen Barara from his childhood days, said that he hesitated from arresting the Russian diplomats for two reasons. - the first reason is Russian vote bank in New York, which is big and the second is that he is afraid of the dreaded Russian mafia, which is known for ruthlessly eliminating the people, those who dare to punish them. In a media briefing he had said, "We would be arresting and prosecuting these Russians, but for diplomatic immunity".

He wanted the US government to expel these Russian diplomats from America. Barara's actions drew a sharp reaction from the Russian government. They even called Barara a 'Russophobic'.

A section of the New Yorkers believes that Barara has political ambitions and he is cleverly using his scam buster image to enter politics. They say he has set his eyes on the Mayor of New York and later a Governor or a Senator.

According to 'Crainsnewyork' website, despite a reputation as the region's top crime fighter, don't expect US Attorney Preet Bharara to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie-federal prosecutors who parlayed corruption-busting into elected office.

But not everybody agrees with it. They say "he is running for the office of the Mayor of New York".

Speaking to Crainsnewyork, an insider said "I think it is a mistake to see him as a guy who wants to run for office. But he could be a well-received choice for Hillary [Clinton] as her [US attorney general] if he wins these cases on public corruption and keeps winning the insider trading cases."

A spokeswoman for Mr Barara said, "Preet thinks he has the best job in the world and has no plans to run for political office." According to a lot of New York residents Barara is just doing his duty, not targeting any particular community.

First Published: December 18, 2013, 2:30 PM IST
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