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Fake varsity issue to figure prominently during talks

With the radio tagging of Indian students duped by a fake university in US triggering outrage in India, the government today said it will ask Washington how such a “dubious” institute was allowed to function.

delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2011 00:19 IST

With the radio tagging of Indian students duped by a fake university in US triggering outrage in India, India on Tuesday said it will ask Washington how such a “dubious” institute was allowed to function. The issue is set to dominate talks when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao travels to the US later this month.

"We will be taking it up with the educational authorities in the US as how it allowed the university to function, how it was allowed to dupe gullible Indian students," said External Affairs Minister SM Krishna while terming the Tri-Valley university as "dubious.”

Two days after he strongly condemned the radio tagging as “inhuman,” Krishna, however, sought to cool the tempers saying the matter related to only “12 to 18 students” out of over 100,000 Indian students studying in the US.

"Well, let us understand one thing. There are about 1.8 lakh Indian students in the United States of America. And we are now talking about these 12 or 18 students who have been subjected to this treatment,” Krishna said when asked about the radio tagging of Indian students.

“I would appeal to the people of the country and to the media in particular that we should look at it in the larger perspective of these one lakh (100,000) and odd Indian students who are pursuing their studies in various universities," he said.

Some 1,555 students of Tri-Valley University, 90 per cent of them from India, mostly Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of deportation following the closure of the university in Pleasanton, California, on charges of selling student visas.

Krishna stressed that India has taken up the issue of the students being tagged. "We have taken it up with the USA at the highest level. Our Ambassador and the Consul-General in San Francisco are in touch with the Indian students," said the minister who had Sunday termed the radio-tagging as "unacceptable".

The issue is set to figure prominently in discussions when Rao travels to the US, likely Feb 11, informed sources said.

Rao's visit is part of a series of preparatory meetings to firm up the agenda of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to India in April for the second round of foreign minister-level strategic dialogue. However, since the unravelling of the fake university in the US, the issue is now expected to be on top of her talks with senior officials of the Obama administration.

Earlier, Krishna had strongly condemned the radio tagging of Indian students terming the practice as “inhuman” and demanded that the US government "initiate severe action against those officials responsible for this inhuman act".

"Indian students are not criminals. The radio collars should immediately be removed," Krishna said in Bangalore Sunday.

The US has, however, vigorously defended the radio tagging of Indian students the practice was a "standard procedure" for a variety of investigations.

"Use of ankle monitors is widespread across the United States and standard procedure for a variety of investigations, and does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity," the US embassy said in a statement on Monday.