Washington: Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Sunday said that the “weight of the government of India” is behind the detained students in the country, while confirming that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will have access to all students by Monday.
Speaking exclusively to ANI, Shringla said, “We are obviously concerned and distressed that so many Indian students have been implicated in this issue regarding the University of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We have been very quick off the block in trying to ensure that the interests of our students are protected.”
“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,” he added.
Shringla, the former High Commissioner to Bangladesh, said that they have been advising the students on various legal options and that the students can also access a panel of lawyers. Shringla said that the hotlines set up for the students have so far received over 100 calls.
“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. The students can be assured that they are not alone, the weight of the Government of India is behind them,” he said.
On Saturday, India issued a demarche to the US Embassy in New Delhi over the detention of the students and expressed its 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.
In a nationwide crackdown on Wednesday, US authorities arrested scores of Indian students, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, who were illegally staying in the country.
A US federal court charged eight Indian student recruiters- six from Detroit and one each from Florida and Virginia. The Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have also issued warrants for the arrest of 600 persons.
The students had allegedly enrolled in a fraudulent university in order to take advantage of the US government’s pay-to-stay scheme.
The Department of Homeland Security had set up a fake university in Farmington Hills to target foreign students who wanted to stay in the US without proper authorization, in search of jobs under the CPT (Curricular Practical Training) student visa program, according to federal indictments unsealed in Detroit.