Some of the Indian students duped by a 'sham' university in
California have been forced to wear radio-trackers around their
ankles, triggering a wave of anger through the Indian community.
India said the use of monitors was "unwarranted" and raised the
issue with the US deputy ambassador Saturday.
Some 1,555 students of Tri-Valley University, 90 percent of them
from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of
deportation following the closure of the university in Pleasanton
on charges of selling student visas.
Some of the students who approached Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) to seek help were placed under ISAP (Intense
Supervision and Appearance Programme) and put in removal
A number of students have already been interviewed by ICE agents,
most have been questioned and released but a few have been
required to wear ankle bracelets, Jayaram Komati of the Telugu
Association of North America (TANA) told IANS.
Throughout Saturday, Indian television channels had displaying
visuals of Indian students with radio trackers around one ankle,
which was apparently done to monitor their movements.
India protested the measure.
"We have conveyed to the US authorities that the students, most of
who are victims themselves, must be treated fairly and reasonably,
and that the use of monitors on a group of students, who were
detained and later released with monitors in accordance with US
laws, is unwarranted and should be removed," said Indian external
affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash in New Delhi.
US Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu was called to the external
ministry and apprised of India's concerns over the measure.
Prakash said that MEA and Indian consulate general in San
Francisco are in touch with the Indian students and US
authorities, adding that "everything possible" will be done to
safeguard the students' "legitimate interests".
"The students should be given ample opportunity to clarify their
position and present their case; those who wish to return to India
should be allowed to do so voluntarily; those students who have
not violated any visa or immigration laws should be given
opportunity to adjust their status; and, those who are eligible to
seek transfer to other universities should be given adequate
opportunity and time to do so," he said.
The Indian community in the US has expressed shock and anger over
"It is very unfortunate that the students of the Tri Valley are
being treated like criminals for none of their fault," Ramesh
Annamreddy, another prominent community leader, said.
"Telugu community in North America is deeply disturbed", over the
development, said North America Telugu Society (NATS) president
Requesting US Citizenship and Immigration Services to resolve this
issue immediately, Madala said, NATS will fight to protect the
rights of Indian students and is also working with the Indian
external affairs ministry to resolve the issue.
Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) demanded
immediate intervention of Indian government asking it to "provide
immediate alternative arrangements for all these displaced
students of Tri Valley to complete their studies at no additional
cost to them".
"It is a another big diplomatic failure of Indian government and
the result is the suffering of Indian students at the hands of US
Department of Homeland Security," said OFBJP President Adapa
Meanwhile, Komati, whose organisation has some 35,000 members also
advised students attending Tri-Valley University to seek
immigration advice from an immigration attorney.
"Ultimately, we want to protect the kids within the boundaries of
the law," he said. "They are not here to break the law. This is no
fault of the students. It is the university not living up to the
norms of society."
Expressing shock at the news, North American Telugu Association (NATA)
A.V.N. Reddy said his organisation is is determined to make every
effort in helping students of Telugu community in their legal
It has also organised a conference call for students at 12.00 p.m.
Sunday with immigration attorney Rajiv S. Khanna of
immigration.com to understand the students grievances and guide
them on the immigration issues.
Students can contact NATA for the conference call details by
sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line
NATA is also planning to arrange counselling through Patrick
Papallia who is specialist on civil litigation and business law, a
partner at Herten & Burstien.
Meanwhile, the US authorities have opened a helpline for the
Indian students. "We have set up an email address and voicemail
that Tri-Valley students can use to contact ICE Homeland Security
Investigations directly with their questions," Lari K Haley,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson said.
Haley said any affected student can call the US number
415-844-5320 and leave the voice message. An ICE representative
will return the call, she said. Students can also write to 'SFRHSIFraud@dhs.gov',
India has also asked US authorities for provide full information
about the students and keep it in the loop about investigations
and prosecution against the Tri-Valley University.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)