Will have access to all detained students in US by Monday: Indian Envoy

Monday 4 February 2019 6:32 AM UTC

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON Feb 4: Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, on Sunday confirmed that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will have access to all the students who were detained in the United States for enrolling themselves in a fake university, by Monday.

Adding that the “weight of the government of India” is behind the detained students, Mr Shringla said that the embassy officials have been travelling across the US and meeting students at the detention centres since the matter was first reported.

“We have either met or are scheduled to meet shortly a majority of students under detention. We have had our people go to each and every center across the country to access our citizens and to ensure the students are okay. By Monday we will have access to almost all our students,” Mr Shringla said.

Of the 130 foreign students who were arrested in an undercover operation to expose immigration fraud, 129 are from India.

Mr Shringla said that the students have been advised on various legal options available before them. “Each of our five Consulates in the country has identified a nodal officer who could be contacted for any issue in this situation.

We have been given instructions from the foreign secretary that this should be handled with the highest priority, to be proactive in helping our students and we have been doing that,” he said.

On Saturday, India issued a demarche to the US Embassy in New Delhi over the detention of the students and expressed concern over their well-being while also seeking immediate consular access.

In a statement, the MEA said that 30 Indian students have been contacted by Indian consular officers and efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are underway.

@MEAIndia “We are on it! Mobilising resources and closely working with the US Government to address the situation arising out of the detention of Indian students in the US. Welfare of those detained is the highest priority for us. @SushmaSwaraj. For updates: http://mymea.in/dtn

The students were arrested in a nationwide crackdown by the US’ Department of Homeland Security as part of an undercover operation at the university in Detroit’s Farmington Hills designed to expose immigration fraud.

While immigration attorneys said that the students were not aware that the university was operating illegally and criticised authorities for using “troubling” methods to trap them for profits, prosecutors hold the students accountable, claiming that they “knowingly enrolled” themselves in the fake university to falsely maintain their student visa status to remain in the US.

Majority of the students are from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, news agency ANI reported.

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