By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 15 (IANS) Even as India reportedly lodged a "strong protest" with Washington over the arrest of an Indian diplomat's daughter in New York, the United States stuck to its position that family members of consular officials do not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
"We were aware of her status," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday when asked about the February arrest of Krittika Biswas, daughter of India's vice consul at its consulate general in New York, and the treatment meted out to her.
But "As I've said before, as a family member of a consular officer at the Indian consulate in New York, she did not enjoy immunity from arrest from criminal or civil jurisdiction under international law," he said.
"Certainly though, we value our partnership with India and we attach great importance to the presence of all Indian diplomatic and consular representatives in the United States. And we sympathize with Ms. Biswas and her family," Toner added.
Asked why Biswas wasn't given access on the first day of her arrest, the spokesman insisted: "I think she was allowed to call her family and her father, who was the consul general, I believe."
"She was allowed to contact them. And in terms of legal convention, I think it allows for notification of access without delay. But I believe she was only held for just the night and then released the next morning," Toner said.
When told that Biswas was released only the next afternoon after her lawyer came into the picture, the spokesman said: "What I can say is that, to our knowledge, she was allowed to contact her parents very soon after being taken into custody and she was released the next day."
Asked if the State Department got any official protest from the Indian government, Toner said: "I'm not aware of that. No."
The spokesman also said he didn't "have an answer" to reports that the US government replied after 20 days to an email from the Indian Embassy.