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'It is our responsibility to make America safe place for Indian students...': US Ambassador Garcetti

Garcetti acknowledged the "unfortunate" deaths of Indian students and emphasised that the President Joe Biden-led government would make sure to make the country a wonderful place to study while keeping the country safe.

Ajeet Kumar Reported By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: February 09, 2024 20:57 IST
US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti.
Image Source : PTI US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti.

New Delhi: Amid a series of attacks on Indian students in the United States, a top envoy from the Biden administration has reacted for the first time and assured that the American government is working in order to make the place safer for the Indian diaspora. US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, who came here to attend a summit on sustainable development, acknowledged the "unfortunate" deaths of Indian students and emphasised that the President Joe Biden-led government would make sure to make the country a wonderful place to study while keeping the safety agenda on top priority.

"Our heart always is touched when any tragedy, whether it is a life taken by somebody or any violence, no matter who they are," Ambassador Garcetti said on the sideline of the event. 

"We are very committed to making sure that Indians know that the United States is a wonderful place to study and to be safe," added the US envoy.

WATCH: US envoy to India reacts to recent deaths of Indian students in US

We will ensure the safety of Indian students in the US: Garcetti

Further, he admitted that tragedies could happen in any corner of the world but emphasised that the US has been the favoured destination for Indian students for education. Underscoring the recent incidents of deaths, Garcetti asserted it was the duty of the American government to work collaboratively with their Indian counterpart to ensure the safety of the diaspora staying in the US.

"We have more Indians studying in the US than any country in the world...We know tragedies will happen, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we work together with the Indian government and that people know what they can do. Our hearts go out to the families in any of these tragedies," he added.

According to a report by The Open Doors-- an institute that keeps a record of international students and scholars in the United States and American students studying abroad-- the number of Indian students in the US has reached an all-time high of 2,68,923 in the academic year 2022-2023. This is a 35% increase from the previous year. 

Deaths of Indian students in foreign soars 

However, Indian students in the US have hit the headlines following their tragic deaths. In 2024 alone, at least five students were killed wherein two were Indians and the other three were US nationals but of Indian origin. Earlier this week, a 23-year-old man was found dead at Indiana's Purdue University. The student was identified as Sameer Kamath. However, later the administration claimed he died of suicide and denied any foul playIn fact, the same was admitted by Jaishankar in the Lok Sabha on Friday. According to the Minister, a total of 403 Indian students have died in foreign countries since 2018 due to various reasons including natural causes, accidents and medical conditions. He told the House that Canada had the highest number of deaths of Indian students at 91, while the United Kingdom followed second with 48 cases.

Neel Acharya was found dead in the same university 

Earlier in December last year, another Indian student, Neel Acharya, who was pursuing a double major at Purdue University in the US state of Indiana found dead days after he went missing. "Our son Neel Acharya has been missing since yesterday January 28 (12:30 AM EST) He is studying at Purdue University in the US. He was last seen by the Uber driver who dropped him off at Purdue University. We are looking for any info on him. Please help us if you know anything," his mother Goury Acharya, had posted on X about Neel missing. 

Replying to her post, India's Consulate General in Chicago, said: "(The) Consulate is in touch with Purdue University authorities and also with Neel’s family. The consulate will extend all possible support and help." Later, his dead body was recovered. The mystery of death has not been resolved yet and an investigation is still going on. 

Vivek Saini was killed by a drug addict

Subsequently, Vivek Saini, another Indian student from Haryana, was hammered to death by a homeless drug addict in Georgia state’s Lithonia city. Saini, a part-time clerk at a store that sheltered Faulkner, had shown kindness to the accused for almost two days and provided him with chips, a coke, water, and even a jacket for warmth, M9 News Channel reported on Sunday. The young student, who had migrated to the US two years ago after completing his B Tech, had recently earned a Master’s in Business Administration. Saini's family in Haryana mourns the loss of the promising young man, describing him as a brilliant student striving for a decent job.

Shreyas Reddy Benigeri

Later, the death of another Indian student Shreyas Reddy Benigeri was reported from the Ohio region. According to the Indian Embassy in New York, the police investigation was underway but no foul play was suspected as of now. 

Further, it added that the Consulate remains in touch with the family and is extending all possible assistance to them. "Deeply saddened by the unfortunate demise of Mr. Shreyas Reddy Benigeri, a student of Indian origin in Ohio. A police investigation is underway. At this stage, foul play is not suspected. The Consulate continues to remain in touch with the family and is extending all possible assistance to them," according to the social media post of the Indian Embassy in New York.

Akul B Dhawan

On February 1, the Indian Embassy in New York said that an 18-year-old Indian-American student, Akul B Dhawan, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was found dead last month with signs of hypothermia. He went missing in the early hours of January 20 and was found dead almost 10 hours later on the back porch of a building near the university campus in west Urbana in the US state of Illinois.

Also Read: Indian Embassy assures assistance to Hyderabad man attacked brutally in US after his wife pleads EAM for help

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