HEADLINE STORY

Missing Indian found dead in US

Mohammad Abdul Arfath, hailing from Hyderabad, arrived in the US last year in May to pursue a Masters in IT from Cleveland University

Picture for representation (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

A 25-year-old Indian student who was missing since March 5 was found dead in the US city of Cleveland, the second death within a week in the country and the eleventh such incident this year.

Mohammad Abdul Arfath, hailing from Hyderabad, arrived in the US last year in May to pursue a Masters in IT from Cleveland University.

“Anguished to learn that Mohammed Abdul Arfath, for whom search operation was underway, was found dead in Cleveland, Ohio,” the Consulate General of India in New York said in a post on X. Offering “deepest condolences” to Arfath’s family, the Consulate said it is in touch with local agencies to ensure a thorough investigation into his death.

“We are extending all possible assistance to the bereaved family to transport his mortal remains to India,” the Consulate added.

Last month, the Consulate said that it was working with local law enforcement authorities to locate the Indian student.

According to a report in WKYC 3News last week, Arfath left his home at Reserve Square on March 5 and did not return.

Cleveland police told the news outlet that they had issued a “missing person” alert for Arfath.

The WKYC 3News report cited a statement from Cleveland State University which said that university records showed that Arfath “was no longer a registered Cleveland State student as of January 2024, nor did he live on campus while attending the university.”

Arfath’s father Mohammed Saleem had said that Arfath last spoke to him on March 7, and since then he has not been in touch with his family. His mobile phone is switched off as well.

“We are working with local law enforcement agencies to find him at the earliest,” the Consulate had said.

Arfath’s roommates in the US had informed his father that they lodged a missing persons complaint with Cleveland Police.

However, on March 19, Arfath’s family received a call from an unidentified person, who claimed that Arfath had been kidnapped allegedly by a gang selling drugs and demanded $1,200 to “release” him.

The caller also threatened to sell Arfath’s kidneys if the ransom wasn’t paid, his father said.

“I got a call from an unknown number, and the caller informed me that my son had been kidnapped and demanded money. The caller did not mention the mode of payment but just asked to pay the amount. When I asked the caller to allow us to talk to my son, he refused,” Saleem told PTI in Hyderabad last month.

Arfath’s parents have requested the Central government to take necessary measures to locate and bring back their son safely. Saleem has also written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

String of incidents

The incident is the latest in a string of troubling cases on the safety and security of Indian students in the US.

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 January, 18-year-old Akul Dhawan, a University of Illinois student was found unresponsive outside a campus building. Investigations revealed that he died due to hypothermia, with authorities ruling that acute alcohol intoxication and prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures significantly contributed to his death.

In another tragedy that month, 25-year-old Indian student Vivek Saini was hammered to death by a homeless drug addict in Georgia.

Volunteer-based nonprofit organisation TEAM Aid has been assisting in repatriating the mortal remains of several individuals in these and other cases to India. TEAM Aid founder Mohan Nannapaneni has said that the organisation is in the process of initiating “educational and preventative” programmes soon to offer guidance and support to Indian immigrants here. (PTI)

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