Indian student sues NYC govt for 'wrongful' arrest

New York: Calling her arrest on the suspicion of sending obscene emails to her teacher in Queens' John Browne High School wrongful, a teenaged daughter of the Manhattan-based Indian Consulate diplomat is suing the New York City government for $1.5 million.

Krittika Biswas, daughter of vice counsul Debashish Biswas, also claimed that she was ill-treated in the prison that included embarrassing situations.

Krittika Biswas. Photo Courtesy

Biswas alleged that she was not allowed to use a proper bathroom for a long-time when she was in custody at the 107th precinct. "Eventually, I had to go in front of everyone," Biswas said, referring to a small toilet that was in the cell occupied by others.

Her lawyer Rajiv Batra said that her more than 24-hour arrest on 8 February was a violation of international law, federal law as well as state and city law. Batra said that neither the father of girl, nor the Consulate General of India, Prabhu Dayal, were informed of the arrest.

Batra claimed that Biswas, 18, had diplomatic immunity that prevented her from being arrested. But the Consulate General said that US authorities informed him that the immunity did not extend to family members of the diplomat.

"That did not cut any ice," he said.

It soon emerged that Biswas did not send the emails and the school authorities eventually allowed her back to the school after the real culprit was found.

"They based it (the arrest) on basically nothing," Biswas said, adding the school did not suspend or arrest the Chinese student who actually sent the emails. "I don’t know why he wasn't arrested... the principal pushed for my arrest."

Biswas said a cop told her that if she didn't confess, she would have to spend time in prison with prostitutes and persons with HIV. "I was sitting there (school) with handcuffs on," she said.

The handcuffs, Batra added, were so tight that "they were like a torture device".

The New York Police Department did not respond to calls and an email seeking a response.

Batra lashed out at Principal Howard Kwait and the teacher Jamie Kim Ross, who was the recipient of the emails.
"They did not do the due diligence before getting her arrested," he said. "They were dead wrong."

Biswas said that she couldn't drink water from a water fountain because it had another person's vomit, and although it was really cold, she could not use the blanket because it was really dirty.

Dayal said Biswas deserved compensation from the government. "She has undergone mental torture and physical torture," he said. "This has scarred her mind for the rest of her life."

Dayal, however made it clear that the incident has no bearing on India-US relations. "This is an aberration... a wrongful act of local officials," he said.

Batra suggested Mayor Michael Bloomberg give Biswas "a key to the city" to "unruffle some of the ruffled feathers".