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‘Top priority’: Ministry of External Affairs on 129 Indian students arrested in US

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New Delhi/Washington: At the Ministry of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj and her team are giving “top priority” to the Indian students who have arrested in the United States for enrolling themselves in a fake university.

Authorities have termed it as “pay-to-stay” in America scheme and out of 130 foreign students arrested, 129 are from India.

The US’ Department of homeland Security recently carried out an undercover operation at the university in Detroit’s Farmington Hills designed to expose immigration fraud.

 

While, the immigration attorneys said that the students were not aware that the university was operating illegally and illegitimately. Attorneys also criticised authorities for using “troubling” methods to trap them and hold students accountable as they claimed that they “knowingly enrolled” themselves in the fake university to maintain their visa status in US.

After the undercover operation, US’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians, for immigration violations.

According to latest reports, trackers have been put around the ankles of the detained students. They have been radio tagged and asked not to move out of a certain radius.

In 2011, in a similar incident, there was an outrage where Indian students were radio-tagged for their alleged involvement in an immigration fraud at US’ TriValley University.

Khaalid H Walls, an ICE spokesperson said, “The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has administratively arrested 130 foreign nationals enrolled at the University of Farmington for civil immigration violations. Of the 130, 129 were Indian nationals.”

The ICE agents made the arrests on Wednesday, the same day federal indictments were unsealed that charged eight people, all of whom are either Indians or Indian-Americans, in a visa fraud scheme. All eight were charged criminally for “conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit.” But the 130 students were arrested only on civil immigration charges.

The arrests took place across the US, in New Jersey, Atlanta, Houston, Michigan, California, Louisiana, North Carolina and St Louis.

According to attorneys, the students had immigrated legally to US on student visas, but had allegedly transferred to the University of Farmington so that they could work.

However, federal prosecutors claim the students were aware the university was not running a legitimate operation. But attorneys who have spoken with students or with family and friends of those arrested are pushing back against the government’s claims.

The Ministry of External Affairs has placed the issue as a “top priority”.

“The government of India, together with our mission in Washington and our consulates in the US are according the highest priority to the situation arising out of the detention of Indian students in the US,” Kumar said in response to queries.

Kumar also added that they have placed a formal request for consular access, emphasising that the request may be taken as very high priority.

The Indian embassy in the US has also opened a 24/7 hotline to assist 129 Indian students. It has appointed a nodal officer to help the students in distress.

The two numbers – (+1) 202-322-1190 and (+1) 202-340-2590 – would be manned by senior embassy officials round the clock, officials said.

The arrested students, their friends and family members can contact the embassy at the e-mail address: [email protected]


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National

Grant full statehood status to Delhi: Kejriwal appeals to PM Modi

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New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant full statehood status to Delhi, an issue that the ruling AAP is expected to rise in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in an emphatic manner.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Tuesday said it will hold a door-to-door campaign to tell people how the BJP had done them “injustice” on the issue.

Reacting to the PM’s greetings to the people of Arunachal Pradesh on their Statehood Day on Twitter, Kejriwal tweeted, “Sir. Delhi is also waiting for its statehood day. U had promised to the people of Delhi that you wud grant full statehood to Delhi. Kindly do it, sir. People of Delhi have faced injustice for 70 years now.”
Sir. Delhi is also waiting for its statehood day. U had promised to the people of Delhi that you wud grant full statehood to Delhi. Kindly do it sir. People of Delhi have faced injustice for 70 years now.

 

The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is special and its people are known for their wonderful nature as well as patriotic zeal.

May the state continue to prosper in the years to come.According to its strategy for the general election, the AAP will distribute the BJP’s manifestoes for previous elections, including that of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, in which, it said, the saffron party had supported the demand for full statehood to Delhi.

The BJP’s Delhi unit, however, said the campaign was a “new drama” by the AAP and its chief Arvind Kejriwal.

Recently, in a major setback to the AAP government in Delhi, two judges of the Supreme Court agreed that the Centre should have the final word on posting and transfer of bureaucrats in the national capital administration, but their disagreement on finer details resulted in a split verdict and the matter got referred to a larger bench.

“We will go door-to-door, telling people how the BJP has done them injustice on the issue of full statehood,” Delhi AAP convener Gopal Rai had said on Tuesday.

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National

Money laundering case probe: Robert Vadra appears before ED

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New Delhi: Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on February 20 appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case probe, officials said.

He reached the agency’s office at Jamnagar House in central Delhi at about 10.30 a.m. along with his lawyers, they said.

This is a scheduled appearance of Mr. Vadra before the investigating officer (IO) of the case in a criminal complaint related to allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad. He had skipped the summons on February 19, citing bad health.

 

Vadra has been questioned by the ED in this case for 23 hours over three days of deposition earlier this month. He has been asked by a Delhi court to cooperate in the probe being conducted by the central probe agency.

The ED case against Mr. Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth £1.9 million, which is allegedly owned by him.

The agency had told the court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Mr. Vadra. These include two houses, one worth £5 million and the other valued at £4 million, six other flats and more properties.

Vadra has denied the allegations of possessing illegal foreign assets and termed them a political witch hunt against him. He said he was being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.

Vadra’s statement is being recorded under Section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

His first appearance before the ED earlier this month acquired political overtones after his wife Priyanka Gandhi, recently appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, accompanied him to the investigating agency’s office on one day while she picked him up after questioning the next time.

Vadra had similarly deposed before the ED twice in Jaipur in an another money laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner.

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Sarada chit fund probe: SC judge recuses himself from hearing CBI plea

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New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Justice L. Nageswara Rao on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the CBI’s plea alleging obstruction in its probe into the multi-crore Sarada chit fund scam probe by West Bengal authorities.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rao and Sanjiv Khanna adjourned the hearing on pleas of the CBI, saying that one of the judges was not inclined to be part of the bench to hear the matter.

Justice Rao said he had appeared for the State as a lawyer and therefore cannot hear the case.

 

The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on February 27 before an appropriate bench of which Justice Rao is not a part.

On February 18, West Bengal Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar had filed separate affidavits in the apex court on the contempt petition moved by the CBI in connection with the scam and had tendered “unconditional and unambiguous apology”.

The apex court had on February 5 directed them to file replies on the contempt pleas filed against them by the CBI.

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