Krittika Biswas: A series of unfortunate events
By Annie Banerji
With a $1.5 million lawsuit on the line, and the sympathy of the U.S.’s homeland security chief, the Indian media has made this 18-year-old’s unfortunate tale well known to its audience.
Krittika Biswas, daughter of an Indian diplomat in New York, says she was wrongfully accused of sending obscene and anti-Semitic e-mails to her teacher, handcuffed in school and detained with criminals overnight in February this year.
Even after she was cleared of all charges and her name omitted from the records, Biswas said her school sent her to a special suspension programme for more than a month.
Her lawyer stated that not only did her 24-hour arrest, of which neither her father nor the consulate general were informed, violate international, federal, state and city laws, but the whole harrowing experience caused the young girl mental trauma due to the conditions she was kept in.
Reports say Krittika was not provided with proper facilities for water or a toilet. But what has irked her supporters is that despite the discovery of the perpetrator, the New York Police Department and school authorities have apparently not taken any steps.
External Affairs minister S.M. Krishna has asked the United States to follow all international norms, accepted practices and conventions in resolving the case as the Indian government has been concerned about, what many perceive it as, a racially biased case of an Indian citizen.
“I think that I can sympathise with this young woman who was apparently caught up in a situation not of her own making,” said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a joint press conference with Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.
Neither India nor the U.S. want this issue to linger for too long, but Krittika’s family is hoping the Indian government makes a stand on what they say is discrimination of one of its citizens in a foreign country.
Will New Delhi move to escalate the row, or will Krittika’s ordeal be delicately swept under the rug?