New Delhi/Washington, Jan 30 (Agencies): Condemning the radio tagging of the Indian students, duped by the California-based Tri-Valley University in the US, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday asked External Affairs Ministry for the immediate action.  

The BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, "students are not cattle in a ranch. We reiterate, its not students fault. MEA should be assertive.”

The radio tagging incident took place after around 1,555 students of Tri-Valley University, 90 per cent of them from India, faced deportation on charges of selling student visas.

These students, were studying at the California-based Tri Valley University, which was shut down by the federal authorities last week after investigation revealed that this relatively new academic institution had indulged in massive and wire fraud and helped foreign nationals illegally acquire immigration status.

Following a raid at the University building in Pleasanton, California, federal authorities swooped down on its students – 95 per cent of who are from India, mostly from Andhra Pradesh – for questioning and interrogation.

Immigration attorneys and Indian American community leaders who have been helping these students said that scores of them have been a detained, released on bond, and
many of them have been installed with Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (radio tags).

Time running out for students
    
Having duped by "sham" university, time is running out for hundreds of Indian students. In their desperate attempt to save their academic careers and avoid deportation back home, the frantic students are anxiously knocking at the doors of colleges begging for admission.

"Time is fast running out for these students," said Ram Mohan Konda of the American Telugu Association.

"These students do not know where to go. They are being asked for thousands of dollars in bond and. At the same time they have to join any university as soon as possible so as to maintain their visa status and complete their studies," Konda said.

Konda, who has been in personal contact with a number of these students, said that they are not able to get any fresh admission because the SEVIS has been blocked.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the Department of Homeland Security is the web based programme to track the foreign students in the US.

Until it is active, no university and academic institution can admit any foreign students to their campus.

Also since the fall classes have already begun, it would be difficult for these students to get admission into any college or universities after a week or so, Konda said, adding that authorities have to act fast otherwise most of these students would be left with no other option but to go back voluntarily or be deported.

In some cases students are being asked for bond deposits running into thousands of dollars and a large number of them have been served with Notice to Appear (which is considered as the first step towards the start of deportation process).

While many of them have been released on bail, a few of them are still in the detention centres as they have not been able to furnish the bond money.

These students are spread across the country -- Ohio, Illinois, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Radio-tagging unacceptable: Krishna

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna slamming the US authorities for tagging the students said,
"The way some of the students have been treated by authorities is unacceptable."

"In the opinion of the government of India the developments were unavoidable and adding insult to injury," he said while talking to reporters in Banglore.

Krishna told the US that it "must realize the tremendous stakes involved in higher education, in interaction between our two countries in higher education."

The Foreign Minister promised legal and consular help to the students.

Helpline numbers

Meanwhile, the US authorities have opened a helpline for the Indian students. Any affected student can call the US number 415-844-5320 and leave the voice message. An ICE representative will return the call, she said. Students can also write to 'SFRHSIFraud@dhs.gov', seeking help.

Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy has launched an email help-line to provide the Indian students with necessary guidance.

The Indian Embassy in Washington on Saturday posted on its website – www.indianembassy.org – an advisory to the students of Tri Valley University (TVU) and asked them to write to minca@indiagov.org and edu@indiacgny.org to seek guidance from the Indian authorities.

"The Embassy of India in Washington, DC has taken up with the US State Department the issue of Tri Valley University in California, so as to ensure that Indian students are not subjected to any kind of discrimination or victimisation," the advisory said.