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India raises concern over radio tagged students

Feb 01, 2011 12:18 PM IST India India

New Delhi: The parents of students who have been radio-tagged by US authorities have expressed anger against the management of the Tri-Valley University. The parents say that the students went to the sham university with valid visas and shouldn't be made scapegoats.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department Head on Tuesday called up Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar to discuss the issue. The ambassador also spoke to senior officials in the US Department of Homeland Security. Shankar asked for a speedy resolution to the problem.

Consul General of India in San Francisco, Susmita Gongulee Thomas, says that many students went to the US by word of mouth publicity without inquiring about the university.

Thomas said, "We were very concerned that students who had entered the US on a valid visa, issued by valid US authorities, for a valid university should be treated as in violation of immigration rules."

She said that if the US government has any issues with the college which has issued the I-20's (form issued by US Department of Homeland Security for foreign students) or the OPT's (Optional Practial Training), then the issue is between two US organisations.

Foreign Minister SM Krishna said that India has taken up the issue with the US government at the highest level. He said, "We will discuss with the education department of the US as to how the University was allowed to function."

The US State Department, however justified the radio tagging of students, saying that tagging is better than deporting them.

US spokesperson PJ Crowley said, "Regarding Tri-Valley University, we take these allegations of immigration and visa fraud very seriously. These allegations are an excellent example of the universally damaging effects of visa fraud. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, has established a helpline for the Indian students affected by the closure of Tri-Valley University in California.

Indian diaspora leaders in the US question the treatment meted out to the students. They question as to why university officials have not been radio collared.

Eighteen students have been tagged by the American authorities. These students are suspected of being complicit with university authorities.

The Tri-Valley University was allowed to enroll only 30 students, but it had 1500 students enrolled with it.

Seven hundred students were shown in university records to be living in one apartment. Now hundreds of students, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, face the prospect of deportation from the US.