Wednesday, February 2, 2011

INDIAN STUDENTS TREATED LIKE GUANTANAMO BAY DETENUS

B.RAMAN

Some Indian students---mainly from Andhra Pradesh--- have fallen victims of the Guantanamo Bay mindset of the US authorities which permits them to use demeaning and dehumanizing methods against suspects under investigation or detention in order to prevent them from escaping and to locate them by using the Global Positioning System (GPS) if they manage to escape. We saw the use of such methods against Al Qaeda and other terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba and subsequently against terrorist suspects and Iraqi Prisoners of War in Iraq and then against terrorist suspects arrested in the US. Now, for the first time, these demeaning and dehumanizing methods, which originated from Guantanamo Bay, have been used against some Indian students whose only crime is---if there is any crime--- that they became unwitting accomplices of a university in the State of California which was allegedly making money by helping foreign students get illegal jobs in the US.



2.The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities raided an institution called the Tri-Valley University (TVU) in Pleasanton, California, near San Francisco last week reportedly on receipt of information that it was not a university and that it was allegedly a racket for making money by helping foreign boys and girls legally enter the US for the ostensible purpose of studying and then illegally taking up a job after having legally entered the US.

2. The raid reportedly corroborated their suspicion. They found that the majority of the students were from India and that many of them had illegally taken up jobs after formally enrolling themselves in the university. The ICE authorities ordered the closure of the University and initiated enquiries against some of the Indian students on a charge of their illegally taking up jobs after legally entering the US. They were not formally taken into police custody during the investigation. Instead, they were required to wear GPS anklets to make sure that they did not abscond while the investigation against them was incomplete.

3. The GPS device consists of an anklet, which is also called a radio collar and a tracking device attached to the belt of the person who is required to wear it. Through this, the police control room is able to keep track of his or her movements and sound an alarm if the person wearing the anklet goes outside the jurisdiction of the police or immigration post investigating him.

4. According to some sources, this device was initially attached to the ankles of all Al Qaeda and other terrorist suspects detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to prevent them from escaping. Possibly since 2004, it is being used by law enforcement authorities of some States in the US to prevent persons arrested for common law crimes from escaping or absconding. It is understood that GPS anklets are also used in the UK against child sex suspects, persons repeatedly indulging in domestic violence and habitual offenders.

5. It is not known whether in the US there are any regulations laying down against whom or under what circumstances the GPS anklets could be used or whether it is left to the discretion of individual officers.

6. The US contention that the fixing of the GPS anklets to the person under investigation does not indicate any criminality is not correct. True, it does not indicate any proved criminality, but it does indicate that the person wearing the anklet is under investigation for a criminal offence. It is an act of humiliation against the person made to wear the anklet and it creates a prejudice against him or her in the minds of all those coming into contact with him or her.



7.The contention of the US authorities that the alternative would have been to keep them in police or judicial custody till the investigation is over shows total insensitivity to the feelings and emotions of young students. The police authorities could have retained their passports in order to prevent them from leaving for India while the investigation was on. The real reason for making them wear these anklets seems to be to prevent them from going to another State and taking up a job illegally. This could have been easily prevented by other means not involving humiliation.



8. In India we have strict regulations regarding the use of hand-cuffs and leg chains. Our police does not use them on women, old people and teen-agers. They do not use them in cases of white collar crime either. They use them only against persons who have committed offences involving violence and against whom there are fears that they might to try escape after using violence. The underlining principle of the regulations regarding the use of handcuffs and leg chains is that these should not be used in a manner tending to humiliate the suspect.



9- The Indian students made to wear the anklets have not committed any crime involving violence. They do not have a previous criminal record. There is no evidence that they are prone to using violence. Their alleged offence of taking up an illegal job is a white collar crime which would not come under the category of serious fraud or serious misappropriation of money, for which some justification might have been made for making them wear the anklets.



10. The university might have also had some non-Indian students on its rolls. Some of them might have also taken up jobs illegally. Is there an investigation against them also? Have they also been requited to wear these anklets? If not, one would be justified in suspecting that the Indian students have been targeted in order to prevent future such instances----- considering that Indian students were in large number in the university.



11. The Government of India should take up the matter strongly with the US authorities directly as well as through human rights organizations. (2-2-11)



( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

13 comments:

HP said...

I don't see why everyone is so hung up on this. Expected a lot better commentary from you with all your experience. Comparing this to Guantanamo is crazy, because those people are in prison & not radio tagged. Which is worse, radio tagging or putting these kids in prison.

Putting it in perspective, only 20 out of 1500 Indian students enrolled at the university have been tagged. As per most reports, the university had a small building (definitely not enough to house 1500+ students) and was conducting no classes (physical ones at least; there may have been virtual classes once in a while). None of the students complained about any of this. This means that the students are not "victims" but were trying to immigrate to the US through dubious means. And the US immigration are correct in following their procedures and 20 out of 1500 does not seems to be indiscriminate use of radio tags but like a reasoned decision based on suspicious activities. Please spare me the human rights bullshit and let the law take its own course.

Now that these guys have been caught trying to illegaly migrate to US(abandoning India for greener pastures), they are demanding that the Indian government save them and spend MY tax money for their defence. The Indian Foreign Ministry's time & money might be better served trying to help the people(legal) stuck in Egypt, who are being fleeced by the government (Air India belongs to the govt, you see)

ambi said...

I feel that we are reacting too much about this issue. US authoritirs are fearing that these students might disapper in public, if not kept under proper watch. Whats wrong with that? Its any time better than being kept under house arrest, or behind bars than being radio tagged.

just imagine what headach these bangladeshi migrants are for our authorities.

Innate Thoughts said...

Mr. Raman,

Have you ever tried to do some research on this University before your writing. Many of the faculty in this university have fake degrees and every one of teaching assistants is from Andhrapradesh. None of them have qualifications for a teaching assistant. The students knowingly participated in a scam and committed felonies. Tagging them is appropriate. Calling it Gitmo is your ignorance. You should stop your writing and spend your time recuperating from your illness.

Arun said...

Need for a thorough investigation from Indian agencies on who is behind these students from AP going for studies in US. There are increased Christian missionary activities in AP and it is a well known tactic by missionaries to offer fellowship abroad in exchange for converting to Christianity.

crouching Tiger said...

I agree with comments posted by HP, ambi and Innate Thoughts.

Here are some additional info.

The complaint against the university per se is about not conducting enough classes and faking student attendance in the reports given to department of education.

So when the authorities started to investigate, they found that more than half of the students have given the same residential address which is a small building that can accommodate 4 students at the maximum.

Thus the investigators got alerted and tracked all the students who are missing.

Now coming to the students, one magazine published about a referral scheme where each student initially paid $2700 for admission and was given 20% back for each referral.

This point adds to the impression that the students (say most of them) participated with complete knowledge in the sham, thus becoming accomplices in some kind of immigration related crime.

Yes, putting them in anklets is dis-respectful but that is according to California state law. I am not sure what is the charge filed against these students and does that mandate either the anklet or prison. However given a choice between prison and anklet - I would say anklet would be more desirable.

In US, where the unemployment rate is so high, this activity might have opened up 1000 minimum wages jobs. As long as this is according to the law I don't think we should make a big deal of this.

Inverted-T said...

Shri Raman and all TV commentators have overlooked one fact: How did these students get a F1 visa( student visa) got this university. The visa officers are trained to scrutinize every application an verify the background of the university. It is difficult to get a visa for average universities like Clemson also, a visa for this university is simply shocking. I checked the coursework for their MBA and engineering studies and realized that every degree program reqquired taking one course in Christianity. I hope someone investigates the US consulates role in this scam.

Anjaneya said...

Ramanji,

Not only is this whole affair distasteful and traumatic for the students involved, it was ill advised of the PR person in Hyderabad consulate to call is "hip and happening" .
Some of the comments here are in extremely poor taste, especially the one by "Innate Thoughts". I long for the day when Indians will stand up for other Indians in any part of the world. Some people prefer to make themselves immune to the sufferings of another countryman by placing the blame on the victim. Morally easy to turn a blind eye to this situation then.

Sarang said...

After reading the debate I am shocked at the following comment from my fellow Indians: "It is better to be radio-tagged than being in prison"!!

Have we become so thoughtless about our own compatriots??!!

Reminds me of the brutal and devious Spanish conquest of Inca empire. After the Inca ruler was caught, he was sentenced to death by burning, the worst possible death according to Inca customs. There was a huge cry among the Incas and deviously, the Spanish then 'commuted' his death sentence from burning to hanging. And the Inca were happy!! Result, Peru and Chile are still Spanish to this day!

What the hell! Treat our citizens with respect! If a white man commits a crime in India, guess what hell will break lose if we radio tag him? He will immediately be airlifted back home and India will be forced to drop all charges, apologize and reimburse for his pain!!

Indians should learn to give back in the same coin! Enough of cowering to this guilty conscience and inferiority complex!

HP said...

@Sarang:

"Have we become so thoughtless about our own compatriots??!!"

These are the people who have paid an arm and a leg to get out of India. Spare me the bullshit about them studying there. All they wanted to do was to migrate to the US and abandon India, so please dont call them my compatriots.

"Treat our citizens with respect! If a white man commits a crime in India, guess what hell will break lose if we radio tag him? He will immediately be airlifted back home and India will be forced to drop all charges, apologize and reimburse for his pain!!"

If the Indian law & politicians are spineless and gutless to take action against foreign criminals in India, that does not mean that US should do the same. They are following their own rules which have been laid down by their Congress and the courts. When you go to a country (legally or illegaly) you agree to abide by their rules, whatever they may be. And, Where is your outrage when 19 Indians are sentenced to death by a Saudi court for murdering 1 (yes,ONE) person?

@ambi/Arun/Inverted-T: Lets not bring religion/b'deshi migrants into this, or Raman & all others will call you Hindutva zealots and ignore all you other valid points.

Innate Thoughts said...

At this rate Indians want all of us to root for LakhiReddy Bali Reddy, the child molester incarcerated for 20 years in California.

Obedience to law is important in the USA. It is a lawful country and obey it. US Law does not discriminate between whites or browns or color or religion.

Ignorance is not the best asset. Mr. Raman, through his inappropriate use of Guantanamo bay prisoners' has shown that his scholarship is limited and he does not merit reading from some one like me. I read very little of Mr. Raman's blog and I can make my own independent and learned assessment of events and their dynamic within and outside India.

Paresh said...

@InnateThoughts

Your USA is not holier than thou! First send over the butcher of Bhopal, Anderson for lifelong tortured incarceration in India. Then we can talk of laws and justice in the USA!

Radio tagging Indian students is wrong. I second Sarang's opinion here.

Sarang said...

Indians have to throw away their inferiority complex. Enough of this "we deserved it" attitude. And enough of getting happy at titbits that other countries throw at us. Radio tagging better than prison - Indians happy. China says 'Arunachal Pradesh' instead of 'Southern Tibet', is their territory, - Indians happy.

I agree that if the students were wrong the US has the complete right to deport them back, and it is the responsibility of the Indian Govt to pick up the bill and arrange to bring them back. But while in a foreign land it is unacceptable that Indian citizens are treated as cattle!

shaan said...

There are multiple aspects to this issue.
1)The US cannot claim that the university is fake because they have issued a registration number to it and US Consulate officers have issued visas far greater than that they can issue. So we cannot rule out the complicity of US Consulate officers and other US officers in this fraud. So a victim can sue the US of facilitating fraud, in an US/Indian court.

2)The mindset of some people from Andhra Pradesh regarding immigration to other countries is shocking. Personally I have heard of them not hesitating or thinking twice before utilizing fraudulent means to obtain a visa. GOI seems to have no problem with that and is not proactive in extending its cooperation with other countries to prevent visa fraud. This affects other innocent people.

3) Not just hardcore criminals, other white collar criminals like hackers are also made to wear radio tags in the US. The US always demands that its citizens be treated with respect in other countries while it treats citizens of other countries badly. The best example is that of a teenage hacker from the UK against whose extradition a lengthy court battle is going on. He faces a life sentence in the US. According to the UK-US extradition treaty the UK must extradite any person charged by the US while the US has the right to apply its own discretion. The only ground for refusing extradition is on the basis of prospective violation of human rights. If this is the status of their relationship with their closest allies, what can we expect from them?