F-1 to OPT to H-1B to Green Card-by-Marriage to Murder

By David North on June 6, 2016

One of the irritating aspects of the American press is its routine refusal to report in any detail on the immigration status of prominent criminals.

Take the recent case of Mainak Sarkar, an apparently thin-skinned and mentally unbalanced citizen of India who first killed his estranged wife, a U.S. citizen whose marriage to him made him a green card carrier, and then, a week or so ago, shot the university professor who helped him overcome what sounds like a marginal dissertation to secure his PhD. Subsequently Sarkar killed himself, according to the Associated Press.

All that the AP story tells us about his immigration status is that he arrived from India with an Indian bachelor's degree in 2001 on a student (F-1) visa and, at the time of his death, he had a green card. Using the AP report for clues, as well as Times of India and Daily Mail coverage, we can outline his probable civil status as follows:

  • 2001-2003: Arrives in the United States with a F-1 visa and works as a research assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington;
  • 2003-2005: At Stanford getting a master's degree in engineering, probably still on the F-1 visa;
  • 2005-2011: Studying for a PhD at UCLA; his immigration status during at least part of the time would have been as an F-1 student, but he also could have had periods of optional practical training (OPT), a version of the F-1 status for college grads, or H-1B status as he worked during part of this time for a Texas firm;
  • 2011: Marries the U.S. citizen that he subsequently killed, Ashley Hasti, a medical student at the time of her death; they subsequently separated, but when it is not clear; at this point he has a conditional green card;
  • 2013: After a long struggle, he gets his PhD at UCLA, and apparently his permanent green card as well;
  • 2014: Works for a while at an Ohio-based rubber company, Endurica, separating from them the same year;
  • 2016: Kills his estranged wife in Minnesota, then drives west to kill Professor William Klug and another UCLA professor who was, happily, absent from the campus on the day that Klug was killed; then Sarkar kills himself.

Sarkar was said to be furious with Klug, contending that Klug had stolen code from him and given it to another student.

A missing element of the press coverage was his source of funding throughout these years when he was not, as he was off and on, in private industry. Routinely PhD candidates in the hard sciences at a prestigious place like UCLA are fully funded by the university, often with the help of research grants from the federal government. How much American money was devoted to his education?

Nor were we told anything about the nature of Sarkar's marriage, and nothing may ever be known, since both the participants are dead. Was it a genuine marriage that simply collapsed, as many marriages do, or did he gull her into a marriage only to get the green card, and then dump her when the card arrived?

It should be noted that murders by PhDs — native or foreign-born — are distinctly the exception, not the rule; presumably 99.9-plus percent of murders are committed by people with less education.

Murder and immigration-related marriage fraud, however, sometimes coincide, as we have reported in the past.