At least 10 Indian students have died abroad since January 2024, most from Andhra, Telangana

The tally of Indian student fatalities abroad since 2018 is Canada - 91, UK - 48, Russia - 40, USA - 36, Australia - 35, and Germany - 20.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Apr 13, 2024 | 11:00 AMUpdatedApr 13, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Student death (Representational image)

The sombre tales of tragedy haunting students from the two Telugu states have been thrust into the global spotlight with alarming frequency. In just four months of 2024, 10 Indians have already lost their lives on US soil. A majority of these students belong to the two Telugu states.

Back in January 2023, three Indian students fell victim to armed robbery, resulting in the loss of two lives. The three Telugu students — N Devasish (23) and K Sai Charan (22) from Hyderabad in Telangana, and Lakshman from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh — set foot in Chicago on 13 January 2023, enrolling in a Master’s program at Governors State University, and two of them died just 10 days later.

They were robbed outside a Walmart store. On 7 March, 2023, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a 14-year-old had been arrested by the local police for the crime.

To compound this sorrowful narrative, Mohammed Abdul Arfath, a 25-year-old scholar who relocated to the US in pursuit of his master’s degree at Cleveland State University in 2023, mysteriously disappeared on 7 March, 2024. His last call was to his father. His lifeless body was discovered in Cleveland, Ohio on 9 April.

His distraught parents in Hyderabad recounted receiving a ransom call for USD 1,200 on 19 March, according to local police in the Rachakonda Commissionerate. On 20 March, the Consulate General of India in New York intervened, after which the Cleveland Police began search operations. On the morning of 9 April, the Consulate General posted on X about the death of the student.

Excluding shootouts, investigations are ongoing in most instances.

Also Read: Hyderabad student found dead in US

The toll of tragedy

Former two-time Andhra Pradesh MP of the TDP, Jayadev Galla, who has since retired from politics, raised poignant queries related to Indian student fatalities abroad in the Lok Sabha on 2 February, 2024.

As per data shared by the Ministry of External Affairs in response to this query, the tally of Indian student fatalities abroad since 2018 paints a harrowing picture: Canada – 91, UK – 48, Russia – 40, USA – 36, Australia – 35, and Germany – 20.

Conversely, nations reporting the fewest casualties of Indian students include Belgium, Bulgaria, Guyana, Kenya, Norway — each with one death, Romania – 2, and Spain and Suriname – 3 each.

Bureau of Immigration data reveals a steady rise in Indian nationals leaving for educational pursuits abroad over the years — in 2020, 2,59,655 students, in 2021, 4,44,559 students, in 2022, 7,50,365, and in 2023, 7,65,411.

Also Read: Police probing Indian student’s death in Ohio

The grim shadow of investigations

The long-drawn investigation into Jaahnavi Kandula’s death, struck down by a Seattle police officer’s vehicle in January 2023, highlights the protracted nature of such probes. The incident sparked widespread outcry for justice across social media platforms.

In September of the same year, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy penned a letter to Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, imploring personal intervention into Jaahnavi’s death.

In February 2024, the King County Prosecutor’s Office stated that the accused officer had his emergency lights on and other pedestrians had reported hearing the police car’s siren. It was also reported that Jaahnavi tried to run across the road after seeing the officer’s vehicle. Due to insufficient evidence, felony charges were not filed against the accused officer. Jaahnavi’s parents have since vowed civil action.

The relentless onslaught of tragedy continues, leaving families grappling with uncertainty.

On 5 April, 2024, the Indian Consulate in New York confirmed the death of Uma Satya Sai Gadde, an Indian student in Cleveland, Ohio, vowing comprehensive support, including expedited repatriation of Gadde’s remains to India.

On 3 April, 2024, 22-year-old Achanta Revanth, a student hailing from Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh, was travelling in a car with three friends, on their way to a birthday party, when the driver lost control of the car due to bad weathe. The vehicle overturned, resulting it Revanth’s death.

18 March, 2024, witnessed the brutal death of Engineering student Paruchuri Abhijit, a 20-year-old from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh studying at Boston University, whose lifeless body was dumped in a forest in the US. His assailants are still at large.

On 9 November 2023, 24-year-old Varun Raj Pucha from Telangana was stabbed to death at Valparaiso University. The assailant Jordan Andrade has been arrested and an investigation is underway.

On 6 May, 2023, a 27-year-old engineer from Telangana was among nine people killed, including the gunman, in a mass shooting in Texas when the accused opened fire outside a crowded mall. The victim, identified as Aishwarya Thatikonda, was a resident of Saroornagar, Hyderabad.

On 21 April 2023, Saiesh Veera, a 24-year-old master’s student from Andhra Pradesh, was murdered in a shooting at a fuel station in Columbus, Ohio, where he was working. Veera was rushed to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries. He was just 10 days away from graduating.

Also Read: Two students from AP and Telangana found dead in US

Government response and assistance

In reponse to Galla’s question about whether the Union government has any schemes/initiatives to provide care and assistance to students in foreign countries, the Ministry of External Affairs explained that there are Indian Missions/Posts abroad that arrange welcome ceremonies for students enrolled in foreign universities, encouraging them to register with the Missions/Posts.

These officials visit the students regularly and resolve any issues faced on a priority basis, the Ministry said. Grievances are responded to through various channels such as calls, walk-ins, e-mails, social media, 24×7 helplines, open houses, and the MADAD portal.

In case of any untoward incidents, it is immediately taken up with the concerned authorities of the host country to ensure that the incident is properly investigated and the perpetrators are punished.

Moreover, the Ministry highlighted repatriation efforts under initiatives like Vande Bharat Mission, Operation Ganga, and Operation Ajay to underscore the government’s commitment to Indians’ safety and well-being when abroad.

(Edited by Kamna Revanoor)