Monday, January 31, 2011
US official says ankle tags are hip!
Apologises after New Delhi lodges strong protest
|Two students detained|
|Two Indian students duped by a “sham” American university and forced to wear radio tags were on Tuesday sent to a detention centre in the US.The two students, whose identity is not known immediately, would be released only after they furnish a bond of $ 8,000 to 20,000, said sources. — PTI|
New Delhi/Washington, February 1
The government today lodged a strong protest with the US Embassy here over an American official’s statement that ankle tags were hip and happening and there was no reason for the Indians to get agitated over the issue.
Terming the comments “unacceptable”, the Ministry of External Affairs took up the matter with US Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu, who regretted the remarks made by Juliet Wur, Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate in Hyderabad.
Wur had earlier in the day told reporters in Hyderabad that tagging was a "hip and happening" thing and wondered why Indians were agitated over it. “Those anklets are used when you have somebody who might flee. And so you give them the choice — would you go to the prison or would you like an anklet. The anklets are very hip and happening. Many of our movie stars choose the anklets than sitting in a suit in a prison,” Wur said. Soon after her comments appeared on TV channels, Jawed Ashraf, Joint Secretary (America) in the External Affairs Ministry, called Lu and told him that they were in bad taste, said sources.
Lu, in turn, expressed regrets over such comments and said she has been asked to publicly apologise, said sources.
Meanwhile, the controversial California-based Tri Valley University (TVU) has claimed that one of its Indian-origin staff member was responsible for the immigration fraud and it was not directly involved in it. Breaking its silence, the TVU, which was shut down last month, termed as “baseless” the allegations of immigration fraud against the institute and claimed it had not duped any student. “The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought this baseless allegation and put a red tape in the school operation for a federal investigation, causing hundreds of students to withdraw from classes (and) many instructors requested to quit teaching for the current term,” Susan Su, president and founder of the TVU, said in an email. “Starting in April, one of student assistants Anji Reddy, who worked in the TVU administrative office, teamed with another student Ram Krista Karra, who also has a consultant company, conducting a large cheating scheme by asking students to make tuition payment into Ram Krista Karra’s personal account in exchange for student I-20 and CPT approval. The TVU has fired these two individuals,” the email said. — PTI
Taking strong exception to US authorities’ radio-tagging scores of Indian students duped by a "sham" university in California, India today described it as an "inhuman act" and demanded severe action against those responsible.
“We demand that the US government initiate severe action against those officials responsible for this inhuman act.Indian students are not criminals. The radio collars should be immediately removed,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters here. The students, mostly from Andhra, are facing the prospect of deportation as US authorities last week shut down the Tri-Valley University in Pleasanton, a major suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, on charges of a massive immigration fraud.
The university is said to have 1,555 students, and as many as 95 per cent of these students are Indian nationals. Only about 140 visas were issues directly to Indian students for studying at this university. However, many students it seems had transferred themselves to this university from other universities in the US. This increased the number of students registered at this university.
"The Ministry will extend all help to the students. The parents need not worry since the matter has been taken up with appropriate authorities," Krishna said. The government would also provide suitable assistance to the affected students if they wished to return home, he said.
Following a raid at the university last week, US federal authorities swooped down on its students for questioning and interrogation.Immigration attorneys and Indian-American community leaders, who have been helping these students, said that scores of them had been detained and released on bond and many of them installed with Intensive Supervision Appearance Programme or radio tags.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Washington has asked the Obama Administration to ensure that none of the Indian students affected by the immigration scam is victimised. The embassy and its consulates in New York and San Francisco have taken up the matter with US authorities.