Duped Indian students in US face uncertain future


Hyderabad : The Indian students duped by a fake university in the US face an uncertain future as their appeal is not likely to be heard in a court there before September.

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The 1,555 students, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, feel they are being subjected to inhuman treatment by the US authorities for no fault of theirs. They want the Indian government to immediately come to their rescue and help them transfer to other US universities.

The families of the students are worried as the US authorities have tied radio monitors to their ankles and may deport them for violation of visa rules.

The dreams of the students to pursue higher education in the US came crashing last week after the Tri-Valley University in California was raided for helping foreigners to illegally obtain student visas.

The students’ families said they not only lost huge amounts of money but now also face a bleak future.

With their appeal not likely to come up for hearing in a US court before September, the students may have to undergo the agonizing wait for a few months.

“I don’t know whether I will be able to meet my parents again. I don’t know what will happen,” one of the cheated students told a Telugu television channel in California.

“We are not criminals and murderers to be treated this way,” said the girl, who had a radio monitor tagged to her ankle.

“Please understand, we have been cheated and we have not come here to cheat anybody,” the student said in a choked voice.

While breaking down repeatedly during the conversation, the girl said she consulted an attorney who informed her that their first appeal would be heard only in September.

“I got the admission to the university in May last year through a consultancy after I obtained all the information about the university through the internet. If the university is bogus, why they (US authorities) granted us visa?” she asked.

“Had we known about the university, we would have never come here. Who would like to be cheated,” said the girl, who declined to be named.

After reaching California, the students realised that they were taken for a ride.

According to them, the university was operating from a single room. Though they requested for a transfer to some other university, the dean told them that it was not possible before two semesters.

Another student said the university was conducting only virtual classes but they were informed it would soon set up a campus.

He said there was never a doubt about the genuineness of the university as a large number of students were visiting India during the vacations and after the marriage returning with their spouses.

“We preferred California as it has a huge population of Indians and you don’t feel home sick,” said a student, who had got himself from another university to Tri-Valley.

While some students had been taken to undisclosed locations by US immigration authorities, others were allowed to stay in the apartments but were tagged radio monitors to keep a tab on their movements.

The students said they were yet to receive any assistance either from the Indian embassy or Telugu associations. “We appeal to the Indian government to immediately do something,” he said.

Each student had paid Rs.600,000 for the admission alone. Their parents, who had raised huge loans to send their children to the US, are now finding it difficult to send the money to prevent their arrest.

The US consulate in Hyderabad, however, said the students who were victims of fraud would be free to take fresh admissions in the US. A statement said such students can even come back to India and apply for fresh visas.

“A legitimate student who is a fraud victim should have little trouble re-applying and enrolling in a different, fully-accredited educational organisation,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have urged the central government to take up the students’s issue with the US administration.

“If necessary, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should speak to (US President) Obama to help the students and save their future,” TDP leader Yerran Naidu said.

BJP state president Kishan Reddy said his party would extend all possible assistance to students through Overseas Friends of the BJP.

He alleged that the US, which raises hue and cry over violations of human rights, itself was violating the rights through inhuman treatment of the students.