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PM to take up student issue with Iran at meet

The issue of Iran expelling Indian students in an apparent retaliation to New Delhi sending back their students is likely to come up during a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran next week.
Hindustan Times | By Jayanth Jacob, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 26, 2012 02:26 AM IST

The issue of Iran expelling Indian students in an apparent retaliation to New Delhi sending back their students is likely to come up during a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran next week.

“We are yet to get a final outcome, but we will continue to discuss it – probably while we are there in Tehran. We hope this issue will be resolved soon,” foreign secretary Rajnan Mathai said. Singh will be in Tehran from September 28 to 31 to attend the non-aligned movement summit. He will have bilateral meetings with Iranian leaders on the sidelines of the event.

Reported first by HT in two reports this February, Iran expelled four Indian students –Shoebur Rahman from Kanpur (medicine), KM Razeen from Kerala (medicine), Rajnish Vij from Varanasi (doctorate, Persian) and Mirza Asif Ali Baig from Jammu& Kashmir (doctorate, architecture) – after India sent back several Iranians in the previous months. The students – on an education scholarship from Tehran – had spent between three to 10 years in Iran, and were asked to leave a few months before they were supposed to get their degrees.

Besides protesting the action taken against its students, the Iran government had stated that many of the Indian students were not found “satisfactory”.

The Iranians were sent back on charges of propagating “extremist religious views and misusing social networking sites”. According to sources, Iran has been trying to influence local Muslims as part of a broader theological struggle with Saudi Arabia. It had, at least on one occasion, supported street protests in India over foreign policy.

“We are trying to resolve it amicably…” said YK Sinha, joint secretary in-charge of the PAI (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) division, external affairs ministry. “It has been discussed in various fora and bilateral meets, and we will take this up again in Tehran.”

Iranians comprise the second-largest foreign student population in India.

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