A group of 16 students from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have alleged that they were held back at the international airport in Hyderabad for around six hours through the night of 9-10 January after being deported from the United States.
Students had arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad on Saturday night, but were restrained from leaving the premises even after midnight as the airport authorities took longer than usual to complete their immigration check and other paperwork, PTI reported.
"I landed in Hyderabad at 8 pm on Saturday and could meet my father only at 3:30 am on Sunday," The Hindu quoted Abhilash Vonumpalli, one of the deported students, as saying.
Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali, who arrived at around midnight on Sunday from his trip to Jammu & Kashmir, helped the students in early clearance after their parents approached him.
The minister reportedly asked the immigration officials to hasten the clearance procedure and stayed back at the airport till 1:30 am.
"I told them we cannot detain our own students. The students looked tired and had already been through a lot in the US. I instructed them not to torture them with a long wait further," Ali told The Hindu on Sunday.
Students had gone to the US to take admission to various institutes, including University of New Haven in Connecticut, Silicon Valley University (SVU) in San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) in Fremont.
They alleged that the US immigration officials asked them to "voluntarily surrender their visas" and handcuffed them for eight hours before deporting them to Hyderabad. Some of them were deported from John F Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Over 200 people were reportedly deported to Hyderabad in December last year on the grounds that the SVU and NPU, where they had secured admission, are "blacklisted".
Both the universities have, however, refuted the claims and said they are still certified.