Four Indian students dead in US: Angry netizens call for travel advisory

Four Indian students

NEW DELHI: Four Indian students have died in quick succession in the US, sparking fears regarding the safety and security of those studying abroad, and angry netizens calling for a travel advisory.

The most recent reported case was of Shreyas Reddy Benigeri, a student of Lindner School of Business in Cincinnati, on Thursday after the deaths of Purdue University’s Neel Acharya, MBA student Vivek Saini in Georgia, and University of Illinois’ Akul B Dhawan.

Announcing Benigeri’s death, the Indian Consulate in New York said that a police investigation is underway even as calls for an advisory for Indian students grew louder among netizens.

“Deeply saddened by the unfortunate demise of Shreyas Reddy Benigeri, a student of Indian origin in Ohio. Police investigation is underway. At this stage, foul play is not suspected,” the Consulate said in a post on X.

The Consulate further said it is in touch with the Benigeri family and is extending all possible assistance to them.

“MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) needs to issue an advisory for Indian students on keeping them safe in the US. Just shipping their remains to India is not their sole job,” Debashish Sarkar, a user on X, wrote in response to the Consulate’s post.

Calling the US an “increasingly becoming an unsafe place for Indians”, X user Sonam Mahajan wrote: “It’s high time India issued a travel advisory against the US for Indians looking to move to the country for both higher education and work opportunities”.

“India should perhaps issue travel advisory for Indian students wanting to study in US,” another user Rakesh Bakshi wrote, while many others urged External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to take swift action.

India last issued a travel advisory for its students and nationals in Canada in September 2023, given growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in the country.

The tragic incidents come with Indian students constituting more than 25 per cent of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States, according to a November 2023 Open Doors report.

The number of Indians who travelled to the US for higher education increased by 35 per cent and resulted in an all-time high of 2,68,923 students in the academic year 2022-23, the report said.

Last year, the US consular team in India issued over 140,000 student visas — more than in any other country in the world, setting a record for the third year in a row.