India has issued a demarche to the American Embassy in New Delhi, expressing its concern over the detention of Indian students in the US, and sought immediate consular access to them.
The External Affairs Ministry said India continues to closely monitor and take proactive measures to address the situation arising out of the detention of several Indian students in connection with their enrollment in a "fraudulent university in the US".
130 foreign students arrested by US authorities for enrolling at a fake university allegedly to remain in that country are largely Indians. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made the arrests on Wednesday.
"Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated," it said.
The ministry underlined to the US embassy that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the 'university' should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them.
"We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will," the ministry said.
A US Embassy spokesperson confirmed that "The Embassy received a Demarche from the Ministry of External Affairs about the Indian citizens detained in the United States this week."
The India mission and consulates have visited several detention centres throughout the US to extend consular assistance to the detained students, the Ministry of External Affairs said. "So far, about 30 Indian students have been contacted by our consular officers. Efforts to contact the remaining Indian students are continuing," it said.
The ministry said a 24/7 helpline has been established in the Indian Embassy in Washington for assistance/queries related to the detention of Indian students. The helpline numbers are: +1-202-322-1190 and +1-202-340-2590 and e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ministry said the Indian government and the Indian Embassy and consulates in the US attach the highest priority to the welfare of the detained students and will continue to work with the American authorities and other stakeholders to address the issue.