Radio collars removed from 12 Indian Tri-Valley students: MEA

March 15th, 2011 - 5:09 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Mar.15 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in response to a notice from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has informed that radio collars have been removed from 12 out of 18 students in Tri-Valley University in California, USA and the same are expected to be removed from the remaining students very soon.

Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports alleging human rights violation of the students who were victims of visa fraud, the NHRC had issued a notice to MEA through its Secretary on February 7, 2011 calling for a report in the matter.

The ministry emphasized that the students were in the US on valid visas or authorizations and the investigations being conducted by the US authorities pertain to violation of visa conditions relating to class attendance, residence and work. The Government of India has strongly protested with the US government the clamping of radio collars on the ankles of Indian students of Tri-Valley University.

A communication from the Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, on the issue reads, “Our consistent message to the US Government is that while we recognize the right of every Government to investigate and prosecute fraud, the students, a majority of whom themselves are victims of fraud, should be given adequate time and opportunity to transfer to other universities or readjust their status and, if they desire, return to India, without prejudice to their ability to travel to the US for any purpose. We have also strongly protested the radio collars as unacceptable, which should be removed immediately. We have also conveyed that we expect the US Government to take steps to prevent such universities from exploiting foreign students.”

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) questioned a number of Indian students and 18 of them were initially detained and subsequently released with radio monitoring devices on their ankles, pending completion of investigations into their possible involvement in the irregularities.

The MEA has informed that approximately, one third of the former students of Tri-Valley University have begun the process of transfer to other academic institutions through Student Exchange and Visitor Programme, SEVP of the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement, ICE.

The US Government had closed the University on the 19th January, 2011 for alleged immigration fraud and other irregularities. The University was authorized by the US Government in February, 2009 to admit a limited number of foreign students, but did not enjoy state accreditation. By the time it was closed, the University had on its rolls approximately 1550 students of whom 95 per cent were from India - mainly from Andhra Pradesh.

While approximately 115 students went directly from India on visas issued by the US Consulates in Chennai and Hyderabad, a majority of the students were transferred from other US universities, because the university charged very law fees, did not mandate class attendance and issued work permits to students immediately on their joining the university. In addition, a number of Indians on temporary dependent visas in the US, enrolled at the University after due authorization from the US Government agencies. Approximately 80 per cent of the students lived outside California.

The Ministry of External Affairs through its Embassy and the Consulates in the US is engaged with concerned US Agencies and the Department of Homeland Security to resolve this issue expeditiously.

In addition, the Embassy and the Consulates have reached out to the students and have provided all possible assistance to them, including through direct meeting with them, organizing free legal aid camp in San Francisco, connecting them to attorneys who had volunteered to help the students and issuing appropriate guidance and advisories. (ANI)

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