On Saturday evening at Hyderabad's international airport, 19 students were told they would not be allowed on the Air India flight to San Francisco. (File photo by Associated Press)
Fourteen Indian students who travelled to the US last week chasing college dreams have been deported allegedly after being detained and questioned for 14-15 hours in San Francisco. They allege that they were questioned by the FBI.
Another set of students who arrived today in Delhi said they were kept in a cell for three days before being deported.
A third group of 19 students were stopped by Air India from taking a flight from Hyderabad to San Francisco on Saturday even though they had visas.
What is common between these groups of students is that they were heading to the Silicon Valley University at San Jose and North Western Polytechnic College, Fremont, both in California; these universities have been blacklisted, Air India has been told by the US Customs and Border protection agency.
The deported students are from Hyderabad, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and other states. All of them had the word "revoked" written across their US visa.
"We were interrogated for 14-15 hours by the FBI. We were all kept in one cell. It was humiliating, we were not allowed to go anywhere and were told that we have to return immediately," said Deepak, 23, whose father has a transport business.
"It was hard to raise 2-3 lakhs for a US university. Now I have been shamed publicly. How will the blemish go from my passport and from my future? Maybe it was wrong to dream," he said.
Deepak chose the Silicon Valley University because he saw on the website that thousands studied there. He even spoke to Indian students who were studying there and found the fees reasonable.
"I gave up my job to study in the US. My dreams, my parents' hard-earned money, one whole year are all gone," said 22-year-old Balaraju, son of a farmer in Hyderabad.
In a notice to its travel agents, Air India said that those travelling on a student visa and heading to these two California universities were not to be sold tickets.
"In the past, we have witnessed that students who secured admission in those institutions have been deported to India as soon as they land there," Air India's deputy general manager in Hyderabad told NDTV on the 19 students who had been stopped from flying to San Francisco.
Both Silicon Valley University and Northwestern Polytechnic University have claimed that they are not blacklisted, that the students are suffering because of heightened security after the Paris attack.