US officials publicly shame Indian students, lock them up like criminals

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Old 25-Dec-2015
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US officials publicly shame Indian students, lock them up like criminals

A number of Indian students who landed at the Abu Dhabi airport for their US pre-clearance (immigration) were publicly shamed, locked up like criminals for 16 hours, hit by a volley of irrelevant questions and eventually unceremoniously deported on December 22.

The students possessed admission letters from two California-based institutions (Silicon Valley University, San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic University, Fremont) as well as valid visas.

Did you have a drink in the last 24 hours? How much did you drink? What was the air-hostess wearing? -- were some of the many uncomfortable questions allegedly thrown at these travellers by officials of the US Customs and Border Protection.

For some students, the 'interrogation' took a different colour altogether. "I was shocked when one of the officers asked me what the airhostess on the flight that I was travelling by was wearing. He even wanted to know the colour of her dress," said a harried student, requesting anonymity.

Incidentally, these questions did not figure on the printed questionnaires that the students were asked to read and sign thereafter. "They asked us several questions that were off-the-record. When we asked why the immigration authorities wanted to know such details, they dismissed us outright," said Mohammad Asharaf, whose dream of pursuing a Masters in Computer Science from the Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) was cut short that day. He, along with 16 others, was dumped on a flight back to Hyderabad and his visa was cancelled.

"Strangely, the US authorities offered us no reason for cancelling our visas. In fact, they forced us to sign a document which stated that we were voluntarily giving up our offer of admission from the US varsity," said another distressed student, A Yashwant.

The document (a copy of which is with TOI) stated: "I understand that my admissibility is questioned for the above reasons (no reasons cited), which I have read or have been read out to me in the English language. I request that I be permitted to withdraw my application for admission and return abroad. I understand that my voluntary withdrawal of my application for admission is in lieu of a formal determination concerning my admissibility".

Students claimed that they were "forced" to sign the declaration.

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