Consul General Ausaf Sayeed said none of the pandits had sought any assistance from the Consulate for their repatriation to India.
The Indian Consul General in Chicago has said no complaints or information has been received either from the Iowa-based Maharishi Vedic City, or from any one of the 130 “Vedic pandits” or religious scholars brought here from India for studies and training. The pandits are said to have gone “missing” in the last seven months.
In an email to The Hindu, Consul General Ausaf Sayeed said none of the pandits had sought any assistance from the Consulate for their repatriation to India, and “the Consulate has no information on the current whereabouts of the missing pandits and whether they are working elsewhere.”
Dr. Sayeed further clarified: “The Maharishi University has also not deposited any passport of their missing employees with the Consulate.”
Earlier a Maharishi University official said the missing pandits were “in violation of [the] U.S. immigration law and it is therefore a federal matter, beyond the legal jurisdiction of local officials in Iowa or the Indian Consul General in Chicago,” however adding that “the prior Consul General has visited the Pandit campus in Iowa and expressed great pleasure at the program and facilities.”
Although Dr. Sayeed said the Consulate General was in the process of ascertaining the full facts of the case, what is evident is that unprecedented numbers of R-1 visa holders have been vanishing from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi institutions since they began coming here for their training since 2006.
The Hindu contacted the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding this matter, but their office in Minneapolis, which is dealing with the case, was closed owing to extreme weather conditions.
An ICE official however noted that missing person reports were generally not filed with the ICE; rather they had to be submitted to local law enforcement authorities and in the case of foreign nationals, with the government concerned.
In an email sent earlier, William Goldstein, Dean of Global Development and General Counsel to the Maharishi University of Management based in Fairfield, Iowa, said the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP), the U.S. organisation sponsoring the pandits’ R-1 visas and their stay in this country, had not received any prior communication from the scholars before they went “AWOL.”