A student from Andhra Pradesh, languishing in the Phelps County jail in United States for over 14 months after he walked into the University of Missouri-Rolla on February 27 last year, waiving a bag and shouting that he had a bomb and anthrax, could soon be a free man.
Though no explosives or anthrax was found on him, the police booked the 23-year old Sujith Venkatramolla, hailing from Nizamabad district, on six charges, which included armed criminal action, resisting arrest, false report of a bomb threat, making terrorist threats and first-degree assault of law enforcement officer. He is presently lodged at the Correctional facility of the Phelps County jail.
The Indian consulate at Chicago informed the state government that Sujith would be released in June as charges like felony, assault and criminal action against him has been dropped. A gold medallist from city-based Deccan Engineering College, Sujith went to the US in 2006 to pursue engineering course in the University of Missouri-Rolla. Sujith’s father passed away when he was in Class 8 and his brother, Bhuvith, who is two years senior to him, took up the family’s responsibility. His family made all sacrifices to see that Sujith went to engineering college and borrowed money to finance his trip to the US.
The family’s struggle and the debt must be on his mind when he left for US. At Missouri it was not easy for him. He fell ill and his performance deteriorated. The final straw could have been securing two consecutive B-grades.
While his family was in no position to provide any help or even visit him, the Indian community rallied behind him by submitting a petition with 1,700 signatures to the Governor, Mayor and Attorney General, Missouri, pleading for mercy. The Nizamabad Organisation, American Telugu Association, Telugu Association of North America played a key role in the campaign. Political leaders in Andhra Pradesh, including Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Assembly Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy and Nizamabad MP Madhu Yakshi also lobbied with the External Affairs Ministry in Delhi to provide all consular help to the incarcerated student.
The family is now feeling relieved. Said Bhuvith: “I am happy that all efforts to get him released is paying off. I am thankful to the state government and all the NRI organisations for their help”.