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US official says radio tags "hip and trendy", India protests

A US diplomat on Tuesday courted controversy calling ankle monitors tagged on some Indian students in California as "very hip and happening".



Hyderabad/New Delhi: A US diplomat on Tuesday
courted controversy calling ankle monitors tagged on some
Indian students in California as "very hip and happening",
evoking a strong protest from the Government after which she
was forced to apologise.

"Those anklets are used when you have somebody who might
flee. And so you give them the choice -- would you go to the
prison or would you like an anklet. The anklets are very hip
and happening. Many of our movie stars caught in drunken
driving or else choose the anklets than sitting in orange suit
in a prison," said Juliet Wur, Public Affairs Officer at the
US Consulate in Hyderabad.

Soon after Wur`s unpleasant remarks on the radio tags
seen as adding insult to injury on the students appeared on TV
channels, Jawed Ashraf, Joint Secretary (Americas) in the
External Affairs Ministry, called US Deputy Chief of Mission
Donald Lu and told him that the comments were in bad taste and
"unacceptable", sources said.

Lu expressed regrets over such comments and said the
diplomat has been asked to publicly apologise, the sources
said.

Some of the Indian students at Tri-Valley University in
California, who are in danger of being deported after the
college was shut down over alleged visa fraud, are being made
to wear ankle bracelets so that they can be tracked. The
students are mostly from Andhra Pradesh.

Wurr later apologized for the remarks.
"I deeply apologize. Because I would never want to
insult or hurt the feelings of any Indian and particularly of
young people who are going through a very trying time now with
this situation. I forgot about the feelings behind that and I
think people responded when I did not mention that," she said
tonight.

While describing the anklets as "hot and trendy", Wurr
had said, "I don`t know why people are getting upset about
this. I am not speaking for the way Indians feel about
something. They may have their own reasons for feeling that. I
see it differently."

Wurr while seeking to calm the ruffled feathers in the
country said, "We welcome Indian students in the United
States. I know from personal experience how much I learnt the
first time I met an Indian student when I was in
undergraduate.

Indian students bring great talent, brilliance, hard
work and interest in our culture and we welcome them with open
arms. We want them to have the best educational experiences
that they can."

In a statement yesterday, the US embassy in India
defended radio-tagging students.

"Some of those involved in the Tri-Valley investigation
have been issued ankle monitors. Use of ankle monitors is
widespread across the United States and standard procedure for
a variety of investigations, and does not necessarily imply
guilt or suspicion of criminal activity," the statement said.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna described this as
"adding insult to the injury" and said he will ask the US to
investigate why "dubious" universities are not more closely
tracked and checked.

PTI

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