NY civil rights body sues police on behalf of Indian student

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New York, Dec 9 (UNI) The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the city police department for arresting an Indian-American student who was taking pictures of a subway.

According to the union, 26-year-old Arun P Witta, studying for his master's degree in Columbia University, was handcuffed shortly after a police official spotted him taking pictures of a city subway (underground railway) station in July.

The union filed the suit seeking to prevent the city police from arresting and querying filmmakers or photographers who take pictures of landmarks for their legitimate professional purposes.

Mr Witta was charged with no crime and he was released in less than an hour.

But the student said he felt humiliated by the incident.

''I was surprised and upset that I could be handcuffed on the street for taking a photograph,'' he said, adding that compensatory damages and legal fees are also being sought.

Mr Witta is currently a sixth year student in the MD-Ph D programme. He graduated from Princeton University in 2002 in Chemistry and a certificate in Financial Economics.

His undergraduate thesis work in the lab of George McLendon involved organic chemistry and biochemistry.

Donna Liberman, executive director at the union, said in a statement: ''Arun was taking photos, something protected by the Constitution, but the color of his skin made him a target of suspicion. The police should know better than to engage in this sort of ugly, unlawful behavior.'' According to the union, the objective of the lawsuit is to make the police department realise that law-abiding citizens should not be harassed while taking pictures.


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