India obtains consular access to 117 of 129 students detained in US in fake university scandal
The US State Department earlier said all 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians, detained in the US for enrolling in a fake university, were aware that they were committing a crime to fraudulently remain in the country.india Updated: Feb 05, 2019 22:36 IST
India on Tuesday said it has obtained consular access to 117 of the 129 Indian students detained in the United States for enrolling in a fake university and legal assistance is being extended to them.
The Indian government has continued to closely monitor and take proactive measures to deal with the detention of Indian students, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. According to US government statistics, 129 Indians were administratively arrested as on January 31 in connection with their enrolment at the “university”.
“As on date, our embassy and consulates have obtained consular access to 117 of them, by pro-actively visiting 36 different detention sites through the length and breadth of the country,” the MEA said.
Efforts for consular access to the remaining 12 are continuing, including through the 24/7 helpline set up by the Indian embassy and outreach to the community, it said. Assistance is being extended to the Indian students in obtaining legal advice and connecting them to community support services, the MEA said.
“We remain in touch with the US authorities, both at the federal and local level, to ensure and satisfy ourselves about humane and dignified treatment of the Indian students and custom-sensitive dietary and living arrangement for them during the period of their detention,” the statement said.
It said the government continues to attach high priority to the well-being of the detained students and will remain constantly engaged with US authorities and other stakeholders. The ministry’s statement came after the US State Department said all 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians, detained in the US for enrolling in a fake university, were aware that they were committing a crime to fraudulently remain in the country.
The State Department’s response came after India issued a demarche to the US embassy in Delhi on Saturday, expressing concern over the detention of Indian students and sought immediate consular access to them.
The foreign students were arrested last week by the US Department of Homeland Security for enrolling at the University of Farmington allegedly to remain in America. The fake university was set up by DHS’s investigating unit in Greater Detroit area to bust the “pay-and-stay” racket.
Eight individuals — either Indian citizens or Indian-Americans — have been arrested for running the racket. They have pleaded “not guilty” before a federal court in Michigan.
First Published: Feb 05, 2019 22:35 IST