Krittika Biswas, 18, cannot forget the short walk from her classroom in New York’s John Bowne High School to the police van. The daughter of Debashish Biswas, the vice counsel at the Consulate General of India in Manhattan, Krittika was falsely accused and jailed for 24 hours for sending nasty emails to her teachers.
Krittika, who is now suing New York City for $1.5 million, says, “It was traumatising. I was called out of my class on February 8 by a police officer. He took me out and said, ‘Why did you do it?’ I said, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ He said, ‘If you say you didn’t do it one more time, I’ll put the handcuffs on you very tight.’ I said, ‘When I didn’t do it, why should I say I did?’ So he put the handcuffs on me and said he would tighten them if I moved,” she recalls. “Later, the arresting officer came, put a different pair of handcuffs on me and I was taken to the police van in front of all the students. It was very humiliating.”
It all started in November, when somebody sent obscene mails to her calculus teacher, Jamie Kim Ross, and gym teacher, Ivan Cohill. The mails had abuses in French. “I was the suspect because I am the only student who has French as her second language in school, and the IP address of the computer was traced to my building. The principal asked me to confess and when I didn’t, they called my father. Things became worse when another mail was sent — this time in English — abusing my calculus teacher and her daughter. The mail was sent at 1:06pm, whereas I had left my house at 12:25pm for shopping,” she says.
Krittika says she was ill-treated upon her arrest, and not allowed to meet her parents. “They didn’t read my rights to me. The officer said he would put me in jail with prostitutes and HIV patients. In prison, I said I want to use the bathroom, but they said you can only use it in Central Booking. Between 12pm to 3pm, I could not use the bathroom. I was taken to Central Booking, and when I asked for water, they asked me to have it from the water fountain where somebody had vomited. So I didn’t. I had to use the small bathroom located in the cell in front of everyone.”
That wasn’t the end of her ordeal. “My parents were denied access to me. It was only later when Prabhu Dayal, the consul general stepped in, that my parents and lawyer Ravi Batra came and my charges were dropped. The very next day, I received a letter from school saying I had been suspended — given the highest order of suspension, which meant going to a reform school with other suspended children. I was in reform school till last month when the real culprit - a Chinese boy — was found,” she says. Even after the principal wrote to her saying she’d been declared innocent, things got no better. “No one seemed apologetic. I was put back in Kim Ross’ class and she ignored me. I requested to be moved to another class.” Krittika, who broke down at a press meet in New York on Tuesday, adds, “I was very upset and thought of coming back to India. Before my dad came here in 2009, I was studying in Kolkata. When I finish school next month, I’d like to go back and study further in India.”
Who is krittika?
Daughter of: Debashish Biswas, vice counsel at the Indian Consulate in Manhattan
In news for: Being wrongly accused of sending obscene messages to her teachers in NY’s John Bowne High School.