'We have urged the US to release students'

Updated: Feb 03, 2019, 11:39 IST | Agencies

MEA issues demarche to American Embassy on detention of 129 Indian students in US in 'pay-and-stay' racket

'We have urged the US to release students'
Sushma Swaraj

India on Saturday issued a demarche to the American Embassy in New Delhi, expressing concern over the detention of Indian students in the US, and sought immediate consular access to them.

The Ministry of External Affairs said India continues to closely monitor and take proactive measures to address the situation arising out of the detention of several Indian students in connection with their enrollment in a "fraudulent university in the US".

As many as 129 Indians were arrested on Wednesday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for enrolling at a fake university, allegedly to remain in the US. "Our concern over the well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated," the MEA said.

The ministry underlined to the US Embassy that the students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the 'university', should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them. "We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will," the ministry said.

The Indian mission and consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the US to extend consular assistance to the detained students, the MEA said. A spokesperson from the American Embassy said, "We can confirm that the embassy received a demarche from the Ministry of External Affairs about the Indian citizens detained in the United States this week."

The university in Detroit's Farmington Hills was part of an undercover operation by the Department of Homeland (DOH) Security designed to expose immigration fraud, according to federal prosecutors who announced charges in the case.

Indian embassy opens hotline for detainees
Washington: The Indian embassy in the US has opened a 24/7 hotline to assist the students. The two numbers +1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 would be manned by senior embassy officials round the clock. The students can contact the embassy at cons3.washington@mea.gov.in. The Indian Embassy has also appointed a nodal officer to handle and coordinate all issues related to helping the Indian students.

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