Lawmakers in US want fair treatment of Indian students
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Lawmakers in US want fair treatment of Indian students

Indians diplomats, who met the University of Farmington students, were struck by their lack of reluctance to meet them and be helped to get out of a situation they never expected to encounter in their “pursuit of regular middle-class aspirations of a better career, a better life”.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2019 09:37 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Washington
lawmakers,US,indian students
Lawmakers in US want fair treatment for Indian students -(Photo by Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times/Representative Image)(HT Photo)

Indian missions were blindsided by the arrests of students of the fake university and, lacking timely official communication from the US government, they were “forced” to track down the detainees on their own, using contacts in the Indian American community and by working the phones.

Indian diplomats travelled to over 30 cities over the last few days to track the arrested students and encountered, at times unexpectedly, “four, five or even eight” of them at a detention centre they visited — identified after countless cold calls — expecting to meet just one.

Also, Indian American lawmaker, Raja Krishnamurthy, has led a bipartisan effort to ensure the students are treated fairly. Four lawmakers, two each from the Democratic and Republican parties, have urged the department of homeland security in a joint letter to ensure the detained students are “treated properly and afforded all rights provided to them under the law, including access to an attorney and release on bond”. “It was a herculean effort,” said an official involved with the effort to contact the incarcerated Indians a week after US prosecutors went public with the scam in Michigan state. Eight people of Indian origin have been arrested and charged for the crime of recruiting students, for the university in a scheme that allowed the students to stay and work on a foreign student visa programme without actually pursuing any educational programme, for a fee. The Indian embassy was not notified of the arrests of the 129 students, according to the latest count by US authorities, as it should have been under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963. US authorities are understood to have told the Indian embassy that it was not notified of the arrests because the detainees opted not to request consular access.

Indians diplomats, who met the University of Farmington students, were struck by their lack of reluctance to meet them and be helped to get out of a situation they never expected to encounter in their “pursuit of regular middle-class aspirations of a better career, a better life”.

“One of the detainees contacted by us broke down several times during the interview,” said the person dealing with the situation. A response was awaited from the US state department to questions about why the Indian embassy was not notified of the arrests. “Why would the students decline consular access?” asked the person involved with process, adding, “When they met our officials readily and with a sense of relief?”

First Published: Feb 07, 2019 23:49 IST