Diaspora body urges US govt, universities and student organisations to work towards addressing the spike in deaths of Indian-origin students

WASHINGTON, Apr 10 : A prominent Indian diaspora body has urged various agencies of the US government, universities and student associations to work towards addressing the spike in the deaths of Indian-origin students in the US in recent months.               An analysis of the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) found the causes of these incidents range from suspicious shootings/kidnapping, environmental deaths due to lack of safety knowledge (monoxide poisoning, hypothermia), mental issues triggering suicides, and even suspicious accidents to violent crimes.

The FIIDS said authorities should enhance safety education, improve search and rescue procedures, implement stricter rules against fraternity ragging; increase awareness of risks and safety, and provide mental health support.

Since the beginning of 2024, there have been at least half a dozen deaths of Indian and Indian-origin students in the US.

A 25-year-old Indian student who had been missing since last month was found dead in the US city of Cleveland this week.

Last week, an Indian student in Ohio, Uma Satya Sai Gadde, died and police are investigating the case.

Last month, a 34-year-old trained classical dancer from India, Amarnath Ghosh, was shot dead in St Louis, Missouri.

Last month, the Consulate posted on X about the death of Abhijeeth Paruchuru, a 20-year-old Indian student in Boston. Paruchuru’s parents, based in Connecticut, had been in direct touch with detectives and initial investigations into his death had ruled out foul play.

Sameer Kamath, a 23-year-old Indian-American student at Purdue University, was found dead in a nature preserve in Indiana on February 5.

On February 2, Vivek Taneja, a 41-year-old Indian-origin IT executive, suffered life-threatening injuries during an assault outside a restaurant in Washington. In another tragedy, 25-year-old Indian student Vivek Saini was hammered to death by a homeless drug addict in Georgia.

A spike in tragic deaths of Indian students in the United States has raised significant concerns among the Indo-American community as well as the Indian population.

Dr Lakshmi Thalanki from Boston, who collected data on the deaths of more than 10 students, noted, “The sudden surge of deaths among Indian students is alarming and suspicious”.

On Tuesday, FIIDS submitted various recommendations to the Department of State, Department of Justice, Education Department, universities, student organisations as well as the Indo-American community.

Since the sudden rise in suspicious deaths, rumours have been circulating around the Indian American community about potential hate crimes especially as many deaths are clustered around East and Midwest universities, especially in Cleveland Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.

Some of them fear that the hate crimes are fueled by negative propaganda against the community, FIIDS said.

“Even though FIIDS did not find any conclusive facts to support the rumours, they may need to be investigated to timely address their concern, a media release said.

“Indian origin students, according to Open Doors Report (ODR) are 275k, making 25 per cent of total foreign students and bringing in USD 9 billion per year in terms of fees and expenses,” it said.

“However, the recent increase in their deaths is concerning and, if not addressed, would impact their confidence in the safety of US universities, potentially impacting the inflow of students further,” said Khanderao Kand, chief of Policies and Strategy at FIIDS.

FIIDS also announced the launch of a survey of Indian-American students regarding their concerns and safety. (PTI)