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Telugu students, professionals abroad falling prey to attacks

Marri Ramu
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Government evolves no mechanism to help victims' families undergoing traumatic times

Four years ago, the then Higher Education Minister of Andhra Pradesh D. Srinivas assured the State Assembly that the government would initiate steps to ensure the safety of Andhra Pradesh students pursuing higher studies in other countries. However, little has changed since then.

Neither attacks on Telugu students abroad have stopped, nor has the government evolved any mechanism to come to the rescue of the victims' families undergoing traumatic times during such emergencies.

Whether accidental deaths of Telugu students abroad, attacks on them or their killings, their family members face many difficulties, be it getting information or reaching their beloved to attend on them. The recent attack on an MBA student from Hyderabad, J. Praveen Reddy, in London a week ahead of his reunion with family here, kicked off a debate on the security of Andhra Pradesh students living abroad for better prospects and higher learning.

Initially, his family in Hyderabad was worried over it being a racist attack, but eventually, Indian students and Praveen Reddy's acquaintances turned out to be the prime suspects. Investigators in London are yet to ascertain the motive behind the attack on him, but surely no single factor can be attributed to all the attacks on and killings of Telugu students abroad, mostly in the Unites States and United Kingdom.

Personal issues are believed to have led to the killing of Sowmya Reddy by Vikram Reddy who later shot himself dead in England four years ago. So is the case of Jyotirmayi and the attack on Praveen Reddy. But the homicides of others disturbed their families, raising security concerns among those planning to go abroad for jobs and higher studies.

No racist attacks

The often feared racism angle didn't emerge in any of these violent killings in the United States. Yet, the pattern of armed robbers gunning down Telugu students working part time was noticed. No single assailant or gang was believed to be behind them. Whether it was a co-incidence or the killers deliberately targeting A.P. students is not known either to the victims' families or to the State government here.

“Fortunately, that gun culture and deaths related to it didn't surface in England. The circumstances that led to attacks and deaths of A.P. students here and America are completely different,” says M. Prasad, media secretary of United Kingdom Telugu Association (UKTA). He feels reasons for the attacks and crime against Telugu youngsters in England vary from case to case but are mostly personal.

Telugu people settled in America observe students and youngsters landing there with ‘dollar dreams' are unknowingly taking risk by taking up part-time jobs in remote places. Those flying there by taking educational loans and borrowing money from others are caught in a web of repayment. “They wish to make best use of their free time by working anywhere and settle down by clearing their dues. It is sad but true,” says, G. Venkat Reddy, who owns a manpower consultancy in Texas.

Back here in the State, families of the victims complain that the government has not evolved any mechanism to help people in such situations. There is no single government agency on which people can rely to obtain information, process their visas on priority basis or seek help in flying in the bodies here.

Interestingly, organisations like the UKTA are doing their bit by rushing to the victims whenever attacks on Telugu students are reported. They even networked with similar associations in America and mooted a proposal to raise fund from NRIs to help victims' families.

The least the government could do is to co-ordinate with its counterparts in other countries to find out the truth behind such incidents, analyse case by case and come out with advisories for people aspiring for jobs and higher studies overseas, the victims' families say.


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