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Updated: February 1, 2011 01:32 IST

U.S. justifies use of ankle monitors on students

Sandeep Dikshit
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This January 28, 2011 photo shows a policeman detaining an All India Students Federation activist during a march towards the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad as they protest against the California-based Tri-Valley University.
AP This January 28, 2011 photo shows a policeman detaining an All India Students Federation activist during a march towards the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad as they protest against the California-based Tri-Valley University.

"Its use is a standard procedure across U.S. for a variety of investigations"

Despite condemnation from the government and political parties here, the United States has justified the use of ankle monitors on some students of Tri-Valley University in California. But the U.S. Immigration has established a helpline for Indian students affected by the closure of the university.

India has termed the step unwarranted. “We have conveyed to the U.S. authorities that the students, most of whom are victims, must be treated fairly and reasonably, and the use of monitors on a group of students, who were detained and later released with monitors in accordance with U.S. laws, is unwarranted and should be removed,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

However, the U.S. Embassy here said the use of ankle monitors was “widespread” across the U.S and a “standard procedure” for a variety of investigations. It did not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity. An ankle monitor would send a radio frequency signal containing location and other information to a receiver. It allowed for freedom of movement, and was a positive alternative to confinement during a pending investigation, said a statement.

The State Department was in regular communication with the Government of India. “As an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to discuss further details at this time,” the statement said.

The embassy said that to combat fraud, it offered extensive educational advising resources and regularly undertook consular outreach initiatives to help prospective students avoid “fraudulent document vendors and diploma mills.” “We encourage all students to use these resources to ensure that they are enrolling in registered and accredited programs that are appropriate for their means and needs. The Department of State also cooperates extensively with the Indian government to identify and shut down visa fraud rings — and we encourage the Indian government to further support local police forces in these investigations.”

The victims of fraud had access to federal and state resources in the U.S. At minimum, each U.S. State was running victims' assistance units to aid victims of crime, and a legitimate student who happened to be a fraud victim should have little trouble re-applying to and enrolling in a different, fully accredited educational organisation. If fraud victims chose to return to India first and apply for a new student visa, they would be treated the same as any other applicant, the Embassy said.

At the same time, the embassy noted, it took allegations of immigration and visa fraud “very seriously” and the allegations involving the Tri-Valley University were an “excellent example” of the universally damaging effects of visa fraud.

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