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Why African students overstay in Bengaluru

Many are disillusioned with their courses and drop out after a year, but the colleges don’t return their papers
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 08:16 IST

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The death of 27-year-old Joan alias Joel Shindani Malu, a Congolese national, has once again turned the spotlight on foreigners overstaying in Bengaluru.

Joan’s death sparked protests from members of the African community, and a video of the police caning a protester went viral. He was a resident of Hennur.

According to the intelligence wing of the Karnataka police, at least 400 foreigners are overstaying in Bengaluru. Legally resident foreigners in the city number between 6,000 and 10,000.

Police sometimes go out and identify overstaying foreigners. They acted against 13 in May, 15 in June and three in July. Overstaying foreigners who come under the police radar are often arrested and sent to a detention centre.

How it starts

Police say that a large chunk of foreigners come to Bengaluru for education and stay on till their student visa expires.

“Some colleges lure students by advertising big campuses and quality teaching. Once they come here after paying huge fees, the students realise what they are getting is not what they were promised. After a year, they drop out,” explains the officer.

Going back is not easy as they have loans to repay their loans there, and they are afraid to face their parents.

Owners’ lapses

Owners get higher rents from foreigners and mostly don’t fill in Form C.

“This is a mandatory procedure. The owners have to fill in passport details, address proof and vehicle numbers. These details help us verify overstaying foreigners,” explains the officer.

Owners who don’t fill in the details are likely to be penalised under IPC Section 188 for failure to follow administrative procedure, but it is rare for them to be pulled up.

Another senior officer says foreigners who commit crimes often provide false addresses and telephone numbers and claim they can’t speak English. Not all embassies are active, and the students often have no help from their countries, he explains.

“They sometimes change cities to carry out their illegal activities,” says the officer.

Some foreigners are genuinely unaware of visa renewal procedures. “In such cases, we are accommodative,” he adds.

Student view

Bosco Kaweesi, president, Pan-African Federation and Student Union, says many students feel disillusioned by the poor standard of education.

The first shock is when they find out that the education they are getting is overpriced.

“They drop out but the college authorities refuse to return their original documents till the completion of the course. Students continue to live here without attending college and can’t return home because their documents are withheld,” Kaweesi told Metrolife.

He wants the police to reconstitute the African student coordination committee that was active in 2016.

“Through this committee, we tried to reorient the African nationals and provided a passage for those who were overstaying. Foreign nationals overstaying were allowed to pay a fine and leave the country,” he says.

Long trial

Foreign students charged with crimes stay on in India for up to eight years as criminal cases take that long for resolution, police say.

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Published 03 August 2021, 17:56 IST

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