Friday, September 19, 2014

"Price of every tear will be paid"

....Biswas's lawyer said.....the "honour" of Biswas, Indian diplomats and India has been "vindicated" with the court order....settlement acknowledged that Biswas was an "honor student" at the time of her "false arrest".... 
First off, we are very happy that Krittika Biswas has been pronounced innocent and has received civil damages that will go towards restoring her faith in the justice system. However the background story is a bit dark and it should serve as a cautionary example to others.

As a stereotype this is at least half true, Indian students in the USA (and elsewhere) will be focused on grades and are expected to do well in studies, while Americans will look at high-school and college as more of a (enriching) life experience.

Indians are unlikely to be familiar with US harassment laws and zero-tolerance codes and the fact that the criminal justice system will not hesitate to take action against elites (unlike in India where things can be hushed up).

As a daughter of a diplomat Krittika Biswas is not a typical case.  She benefited from strong support from the Indian diplomatic establishment and (we presume) did not lack in financial backing. This will not be true for middle class Indian kids in search of "US degree" who may be wholly destroyed by their own thoughtless actions or malicious behavior forthcoming from fellow (american) students.

We understand the need for emotional closure (and lawyer-ly hyperbole) but we are uncomfortable about all the drum beating about violated honor being restored of Ms Biswas, Indian Foreign Service and India (it is a bit like how Dr Aafia Siddiqui is described by patriots as a daughter of Pakistan....also unfairly targeted by the Americans). It was a false case against a civilian who was not representing India officially, and the "crime" was probably upgraded due to zero-tolerance principles adopted by US schools. 

The (most important) question remains, why was the student who actually committed the crime not charged? Without any other exculpatory information it does lend credence to the charge that the indictment (and arrest) was driven by "ethnicity" and/or a "tragic rush to accuse."
Incidentally it is only in rare cases that a white male american student will suffer such extreme prejudice from the police and courts. The most memorable recent example is the Duke lacrosse case which was initiated in 2006 and whose aftermath can be felt even seven years later in 2013-2014 (!!!) when the falsely accused students settled their lawsuits against Duke University and the city of Durham and a rogue policeman who used to disproportionately target Duke students committed suicide. Even in that instance it so happens that the false accuser was never brought to justice for her horrific actions.

In March 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum, falsely accused three white students, members of the Duke Blue Devils men's lacrosse team, of raping her at a party held at the house of two of the team's captains in Durham, North Carolina on March 13, 2006......On April 11, 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges and declared the three players innocent. Cooper stated that the charged players – Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans – were victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

On May 16, 2014, the three accused lacrosse players and the City of Durham settled their long-running lawsuit. Under terms of the settlement, Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans received no monetary compensation, instead they requested that the city give a $50,000 grant to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission.....On February 21, 2008, the families of 38 of the lacrosse team's 47 members who were not accused filed a 225-page lawsuit against Duke University. The lawsuit against Duke University was settled out of court in 2013. Both the University and the players declined to comment on the details of the settlement....In early July 2014 Sgt. Mark Gottlieb committed suicide in Dekalb County, Georgia where he had worked as a paramedic.....

In a significant legal victory for the daughter of an Indian diplomat, the city of New York has agreed to pay her USD 225,000 to settle a lawsuit she brought against it after she was jailed for a day and suspended from school on suspicion of sending obscene emails to her teacher.

Krittika Biswas has in turn agreed to dismiss all the claims against the city, Board of Education and the officials of the New York Police Department who had arrested and detained her in 2011.

US District Judge John Koeltl in the Southern District of New York said in his order that the City of New York agrees to pay Biswas USD 225,000 in "full satisfaction of all claims" and in consideration for the payment Biswas "agrees to dismissal of all the claims" against the defendants.

He said that the parties in the case "desire to resolve the issues" raised in the litigation "without further proceedings and without admitting any fault or liability."

Biswas's lawyer Ravi Batra said in a statement to PTI that the "honour" of Biswas, Indian diplomats and India has been has been "vindicated" with the court order. The settlement acknowledged that Biswas was an "honor student" at the time of her "false arrest."

He said Biswas joins him in "thanking" the Indian- American community, former ambassadors Prabhu Dayal and Meera Shanker and her former classmates and teachers whose "emotional and moral support" helped her in her legal fight.

Biswas had filed the lawsuit seeking USD 1.5 million in damages for her wrongful imprisonment and suspension from school. She was detained and arrested in February 2011 on the grounds that she had sent "offensive and sexually threatening" emails to her teachers in Queens's John Browne High School.

Biswas is now in India. The defendants had moved to "dismiss" the entire lawsuit but an appeals court had last month refused to throw out the lawsuit saying the arguments by them were "without merit."

Biswas's lawsuit had detailed the circumstances that led to her being handcuffed and imprisoned forcibly approximately 28 hours "for nothing."

Biswas was "forced to be processed through the criminal justice system, and spent over 24 hours in jail without being allowed to meet her parents or visited by senior Indian diplomats. All of this occurred, despite her actual innocence as this was a case of mistaken identity."

It states that she was discriminated against and falsely accused of sending offensive e-mails because of her ethnicity.

An investigation after her arrest had found that another student had sent the emails but that student was not arrested or criminally charged, which Batra said is "proof of foul discriminatory disparate treatment" of Biswas "despite her actual innocence."

Citing the India-US relations, particularly in the wake of the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Batra said he advised Biswas and her family that a "just resolution" of the case would be an appropriate move to "enhance the bilateral relationship."





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