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Students detention: India seeks consular access, issues ‘demarche’ to US Embassy
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Students detention: India seeks consular access, issues ‘demarche’ to US Embassy

Agency News

New Delhi, Feb 2 : India on Saturday issued a 'demarche' to the US Embassy here on the 'detention' of Indian students in America in the "pay-and-stay" university visa scam.

The government of India also sought immediate consular access to them, an MEA statement said here.

"A demarche was made to the Embassy of the United States in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs. Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated," the statement said.

The government also insisted that "....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 statement said.

The Government of 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 United States, the foreign ministry said.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made the arrests on Wednesday.

The India mission and consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the US to extend consular assistance to the detained students, the MEA said.

"So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing," the statement said.

The ministry said a 24/7 helpline has been established in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance and queries related to the detention of Indian students.

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

The Helpline numbers 202-322-1190 and 202-340-2590 would be manned by senior embassy officials round the clock, sources said.

For assistance and queries related to the detention of Indian students by the US authorities, Embassy announcement said that the affected students, their friends and family members may also contact the embassy at cons3.washington@mea.gov.in.

The Indian embassy has appointed a nodal officer to handle and coordinate all issues related to helping Indian students.

The ICE officials said 129 of them are Indian nationals. The fake university was opened by Homeland Security Investigations to trap those involved in illegal student visa racket.

According to the ICE, in 2017, as many as 249,763 Indian students were enrolled in the various American universities.

Students from China topped the list with 481,106 in 2017.

MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar has said on Friday that: "As soon as we received the information regarding their detention, our Mission contacted the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security requesting for a list of the detained students … We have placed a formal request for consular access, emphasizing that the request may be taken as very high priority".(UNI)