A student from Hyderabad sent back by United States authorities has alleged that she was handcuffed and locked up by immigration officials there at an airport, deepening a swirling controversy over recent instances of deportation of Indian students headed to two California-based universities.
The young woman says her only “offence” was reaching the US to join an institute recognised by the US consulate in India but classified as “blacklisted” by the US immigration department.
About 200 Indian students have been deported in the last fortnight by US authorities to Hyderabad, the city that sends the maximum number of students from the country to American higher education institutes every year.
The woman, a graduate in business administration, says she took off for the United States on December 30 and was to take a flight from Dallas to San Jose to get admission for an MBA programme at the Silicon Valley University.
“They told me to go back to India as joining such a university would spoil my career,” she said. “‘Apply for a good university and come back’, I was told.”
Her trauma did not end there, she says. “In the name of procedure, the officials handcuffed me along with a few other Indian students, made us wear a uniform and put us in a cell with other offenders for over nine hours,” she said recounting “the horror”.
Karunakar, a student from the state’s Guntur district, said the officials treated them like thieves. “All our papers are proper, but still we were handcuffed,” Karunakar, who returned on Saturday, told TV channels at the Hyderabad airport.
The students say they are angry with the Indian government “for not acting tough with the US and coming to the rescue of its citizens”. In addition to the deportations, dozens of students were stopped from taking US flights in the last few days from the international airport here.
“We do not maintain the record of those who are stopped here but those who were sent back would be close to 200,” an immigration official at the airport told HT. Almost all of these students were seeking admissions in the Northwestern Polytechnic and Silicon Valley universities in California and were sent back from ports of entry like San Francisco, New York and the US immigration checkpoint in Abu Dhabi.