Home / Breaking News / Fake university row: With Rs 20 lakh loan on head and GPS tracker on leg, woman stuck in US | Hyderabad News

Fake university row: With Rs 20 lakh loan on head and GPS tracker on leg, woman stuck in US | Hyderabad News

HYDERABAD: Confined within the four walls of her paying guest accommodation in cold Sacramento (California), University of Farmington student Saritha (name changed) can barely wait for March 14. That’s when she is set to appear before a judge and, hopefully, be freed of the GPS tracker strapped around her ankle. Until then, the 25-year-old will stay put indoors and survive on little money and a thin supply of vegetables and rice provided by a generous Indian family, living in the neighbourhood.


Saritha had set out to achieve her big American dream in 2015 by signing up for a master’s programme at the Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU). She then went to the University of Farmington. After initial phase of uncertainty, just when she thought she was finally inching closer to it, her pursuit hit a major roadblock

on January 30
when officers from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), came knocking on her door.

US govt misled Indian students by setting up fake university: Indian American attorney

Flooded with phone calls from panic-stricken students, an eminent Indian American attorney alleged that Department of Homeland Security knowingly allowed the “fake university” to be set up and misled students sitting hundreds of miles away in another country. As many as 130 of the 600 students from the fake University of Farmington were detained last week. Of these 129 were Indians.

“They woke me up at 6.30am and asked me to accompany them to their office. I was interrogated till 8.30pm and told to report at the Intensive Supervisor and Appearance Program (ISAP) office the next day. That’s where they radiotagged me. I was instructed not to leave California, pay them a visit every Thursday, not change my postal address and not go back to India,” she said, speaking to TOI over telephone from the US.

US fake university racket: Tracking devices fitted on Indian youths

Several Indian students caught in the ‘University of Farmington’ fiasco were strapped with tracking devices to restrict their movement, while federal agents probed their immigration status. The Indian govt has asked the US Department of Homeland Security for a list of all the detained Indian students and consular access to them.

The anxiety and distress evident in her voice came as no surprise from the Hyderabad girl who joined the sham varsity on the advice of an anna (brother) and has no friends or relatives in the US. “When I spoke to DHS officials today, they said they had a very strong case against me. According to them, even if I opt for voluntary departure now, I will be banned from the US for 10 years. I have no choice but to wait and see what the judge says,” Saritha said, confessing that long ban will push her family into a terrible monetary crisis.

“My father (a lecturer by profession) loaned over Rs 20 lakh to fund my travel,” added a distraught Saritha. “At NPU I did not manage to get a job even with an OPT (Optional Practical Training). Only three months ago – with my CPT (Curricular Practical Training) from Farmington – I found employment with a monthly salary of $4,000. Unfortunately, the firm hasn’t paid my last month’s salary. So, I still haven’t repaid even five per cent of the loan.”

But staying back to fight the case might not be an option for Saritha either. Reason: the high cost of hiring an attorney. “Even to take up her case, they’ll charge no less than $1,000 to $2,000. Then, for every appearance in court, there’ll be an added cost. Her father might have to loan another Rs 20 lakh or so to fund it and it isn’t easy,” said Naveen Jalagam, US-based TRS representative assisting these students.

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