US justifies use of radio tags on students

Its a standard procedure, says American embassy

US justifies use of radio tags on students

 “Use of ankle monitors is widespread across the United States and standard procedure for a variety of investigations, and does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal,” the US embassy in New Delhi said in a statement on Monday. It also subtly prodded New Delhi to crack down on the visa fraud rackets operating in India.

India had strongly protested the use of ankle monitors on the students of the TVU and termed it “unwarranted”. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna too on Sunday said that the use of ankle monitors to track the movements of the TVU students was “inhuman and unacceptable”. Krishna said in Bangalore that India had demanded of the US to initiate strong actions against officials responsible for making the students wear ankle monitors. He also said that the tracking devices should immediately be removed.

But according to the US Embassy, an ankle monitor, which sends a radio frequency signal containing location and other information to a receiver, allows for freedom of movement and is “a positive alternative to confinement during a pending investigation”.

The ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party too denounced radio-tagging of the students.

The US authorities last week shut down the TVU on charges of a massive immigration fraud. The so-called university had hundreds of students from India. Its closure landed all of them in trouble as they lost their student visa status and now face deportation.

The US Embassy said the Tri-Valley University fraud allegations were an excellent example of “the universally damaging effects of visa fraud”.

“Visa fraud is not a victimless crime, and fraud agents and fake document vendors target some of the most vulnerable and impoverished members of the Indian society. Fraud hinders genuine students from studying in the US and causes opportunities and resources to be taken away from legitimate applicants,” said the Embassy.

 In response to New Delhi’s call for treating the students fairly, Washington pointed out that victims of fraud did have access to a variety of federal and state resources in the US – at minimum, each American State had victims’ assistance units to aid victims of crime. A legitimate student, who is a fraud victim, should have little trouble re-applying and enrolling in a different, fully-accredited educational organisation. If fraud victims choose to return to India first and apply for a new student visa, they will be treated the same as any other applicant, clarified the US Government.

Washington said it welcomed all legitimate students wishing to study in the US, and strongly encouraged “prospective students to protect themselves from predatory visa fraud rings and fraudulent document vendors.” “To combat fraud, the US Embassy offers extensive educational advising resources and regularly undertakes consular outreach initiatives to help prospective students avoid fraudulent document vendors and diploma mills,” said the Embassy.

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