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'Absent' Yemen students spell alarm in Goa

'Absent' Yemen students spell alarm in Goa

Author: Preetu Nair
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 28, 2008

Introduction: Post-Blasts, Arab Pupils Worry Cops

An institute teaching foreign students how to speak English shouldn't be a security concern. But, then again, schools teaching students how to fly planes weren't in the pre-9/11 era. The fact that there is an institute in Goa with 42 Yemenese students, all with poor attendance record, has security agencies alarmed in the wake of the consecutive serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Police say the presence of so many students with "dodgy'' credentials from a country known to have contributed substantial number of footsoldiers to Al-Qaida's jihad is worrying, but the school authorities, while admitting that 42 of the 44 students were from Yemen, say there is nothing illegal about it.

However, the Goa police have written to various state government authorities as well as the Goa University drawing their attention to the functioning of "Fluency Academy'' located at a commercial building in Panaji. "We are verifying to ensure that there is no terrorist angle. Things are not in order in the institute and we want to be sure that it is not a front for any terrorist organisation. Prevention is better than cure,'' North Goa SP Bosco George told TOI.

Police said this is perhaps the first instance where Arabs are coming on student visas to study in an educational institute that is not recognized by any government or university body. All the institute has is a trade licence from the Corporation of City of Panaji. Even that licence expired on March 31. "They have not obtained any NOC from the state government nor has Goa University issued any affiliation to the institute. Such institutes operating in the state are a big problem,'' said director of higher education Bhaskar Nayak.

Panaji police inspector Francis Corte said they had checked the attendance of the 42 Yemenese students and found them to be "very poor''. The police are now probing what these students have been up to. "With the increasing threat perception in the state, we want to be sure that these students are really here to study,'' he said. Corte added that the police were also in the process of identifying other institutes that are not recognized and have foreign students.

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