Hyderabad: As India expressed its concern over students being made to wear radio tags, two of the 18 students affected have been sent to a detention centre. They will have to furnish anywhere between $8,000 to $20,000 to be released, and could be deported after that. Many others have been served what is called a 'Notice to Appear', which is said to be the first step in the deportation process in America.
The US has been stressing that radio tags are an alternative to formal detention because they allow the tracking of people that are part of an investigation.
Indian students at Tri Valley University are part of a massive crackdown by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against visa fraud. Most of the students at the Californian college are Indian. The University has been shut down on the grounds that it was charging students to help them illegally migrate and work in the US. Some of those students have since been radio tagged.
On Tuesday evening, a US diplomat in Hyderabad was forced to apologise for her insensitive remarks on radio tags.
Juliet Wurr, who handles Public Affairs at the US Consulate in Hyderabad had told NDTV that the group of 18 students being made to wear ankle bracelets in America should choose to see it as a bang-on-trend moment. "Let me tell you they are very hep and happening because many of our movie stars and celebrities choose the anklets rather than sitting in a red jumpsuit in prison."
It may not seem possible, but Ms Wurr then went on to make an even more offensive remark. "It's funny people getting upset about this. I don't know about your servants ...but my servant has big heavy silver anklets...that look a heck of a lot more uncomfortable and binding."
Within minutes, the Indian government lodged a formal complaint with the US Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu. Ms Wurr soon had to return to TV to express her deep regret for her comments.
"I apologise deeply because I would never want to insult or hurt the feelings of any Indian, particularly young people who are going through a very trying time now in this situation," she said. (Watch)
In a statement on Monday, the US embassy in India had defended radio-tagging students. Foreign Affairs Minister SM Krishna described this as "adding insult to the injury" and said that he will ask the US to investigate why "dubious" universities are not more closely tracked and checked.
The US has so far defended the use of ankle bracelets. A statement issued by the US embassy on Monday qualified, "Some of those involved in the Tri-Valley investigation have been issued ankle monitors. Use of ankle monitors is widespread across the United States and standard procedure for a variety of investigations, and does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity." (Read: US statement on students at Tri Valley)