Radio collars removed from 12 Indian students: MEA to NHRC

Radio collars removed from 12 Indian students: MEA to NHRC

Radio collars removed from 12 Indian students: MEA to NHRC

The Ministry of External Affairs has told the NHRC that radio collars have been removed from 12 out of 18 students of Tri-Valley University in the US and the same will be taken off the remaining students soon.

Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports alleging human rights violation of the students who were victims of a visa fraud, the NHRC had issued a notice to the MEA on February 7, calling for a report in the matter.

In response to the notice, the ministry has informed that radio collars have been removed from 12 of 18 students and "the same are expected to be removed from the remaining students very soon," the Commission said in a statement today.

The ministry has emphasised that the students were in the US on valid visas or authorisations and the investigations being conducted by the US authorities pertain to violation of visa conditions relating to class attendance, residence and work.

The government of India has strongly protested to the US government over the clamping of radio collars on the ankles of Indian students of Tri-Valley University, it said. "A communication from Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on the issue said, 'Our consistent message to the US government is that while we recognise the right of every government to investigate and prosecute fraud, the students, a majority of whom themselves are victims of fraud, should be given adequate time and opportunity to transfer to other universities or readjust their status and, if they desire, return to India, without prejudice to their ability to travel to the US for any purpose,'" the NHRC said.

The government has strongly protested the radio-collaring, called them unacceptable and asserted that these should be removed immediately, she said. "We have also conveyed that we expect the US government to take steps to prevent such universities from exploiting foreign students," Rao told the Commission.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned a number of Indian students and 18 of them were initially detained and subsequently released with radio monitoring devices on their ankles, pending completion of investigations into their possible involvement in the irregularities.

The MEA has informed that approximately one-third of the former students of Tri-Valley University have begun the process of transfer to other academic institutions through Student Exchange and Visitor Programme (SEVP) of the US.

The US government had closed the university on January 19 for alleged immigration fraud and other irregularities. The university was authorised by the government in February, 2009 to admit a limited number of foreign students, but did not enjoy state accreditation. By the time it was closed, it had on its rolls approximately 1550 students, of whom 95 per cent were from India, mainly from Andhra Pradesh.