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Indians under visa scanner

A Tory spokesman says the student visa loophole has to be tackled soon, reports Vijay Dutt.
Hindustan Times | By Vijay Dutt, London
UPDATED ON JUL 10, 2007 02:29 AM IST

With many students from the “hot spots” of Islamist unrest thought to obtain visas to study in Britain and then “go under the wire” by failing to show up for their courses when they arrive, Indian students are sure to come under the visa scanner.

A Tory spokesman said the student visa loophole had to be tackled soon. Damian Green, shadow Home Office minister, told The Daily Telegraph: “If someone does not show up for their course and explain immediately, their visas should be cancelled at once. It’s an appalling loophole.”

Risk map

• MI5 is trying to monitor some 200 extremist networks across Britain.

• Most of them are in the Mid-lands and the North, according to a ‘risk map’ of terrorist threats

• All areas have a large segment of Pakistanis, Mirpuris and Bangladeshis

Lord Bikhu Parekh, associated with the London School of Economics, told HT it was sad that students from India would now come under the same kind of scrutiny as their colleagues from West Asia.

In the United States, following 9/11, American consulates started extensive interviews of applicants and rejected many. Parekh feared that Britain too would now start scrutinising students applying from India more thoroughly. "It is sad, but that is the reality. This will entail delays. I also expect that apart from university authorities, MI5 and MI6 could keep a watch."

Writer Farookh Dhondy, on telephone from Frankfurt, however, disputed the focus on “Indian”. He said: “Most (referring to arrested doctors) are British educated and a few in Saudi Arabia — and that is what is important. Just being an Indian does not matter.”

“There is no jehadi Islamist philosophy in Bangalore. This jehadi Islamist has been picked up from (the) Wahabis in Saudi Arabia and followers of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain,” he argued.

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