The government has revoked the visa of Jakob Lindenthal, the German exchange student at IIT-Madras who was asked to leave the country two months ago after he participated in protests against the new citizenship law.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lindenthal said the Indian Embassy in Germany informed him on February 8 that his visa has been cancelled. “I wasn’t given any reason for the decision,” he said.
Lindenthal is a student of Technical University-Dresden (TUD), and had been studying in the Physics department of IIT-Madras as part of a collaboration between the two institutions. He had joined IIT-Madras on July 26, 2019, and would have completed his course work by May this year.
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On January 19, The Indian Express first reported that the Indian Embassy in Germany had advised Lindenthal against re-entering India on his current visa.
Confirming the latest development, Kim Magister, Head of Press Office and Public Relations at TUD, said in an email: “Mr. Lindenthal’s visa has indeed now been officially cancelled, meaning that he is no longer able to travel to India to continue his student exchange. However, he was able to successfully complete one semester at the IIT Madras. For this period, he will receive a Transcript of Records from our partner university.”
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The Consular Wing of the Indian Embassy in Germany did not respond to an email sent by The Indian Express seeking comment.
IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said: “Granting of visa is done by Immigration and the educational institute is not involved, except for giving the admission offer or invitation. If visa is granted the student or visitor comes, else they do not. This is the process followed everywhere.”
Lindenthal’s expulsion from India hasn’t affected TUD’s student exchange programme with IIT-Madras but the university has decided to introduce special workshops to “optimally prepare” students for an exchange abroad.
“The main objective is to raise awareness in our students regarding the understanding and the respect for regional particularities all over the world,” Magister wrote, adding that Lindenthal will also “present his experiences in India” at these workshops.
About five students of TU-Dresden have been going to IIT every year under the collaboration, which started in 2008. TU-Dresden was ranked 179 worldwide in QS Rankings for 2020 and 157th in the Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking. IIT-Madras, on the other hand, stood at 271 position in QS Rankings and falls in the 601-800 bracket in THE rankings.
IIT-Madras was awarded the ‘Institute of Eminence’ tag by the government last year. As an IoE, IIT-Madras will receive up to Rs 1,000 crore from the HRD Ministry to improve its performance in world rankings. Under the IoE scheme, institutions are permitted to admit more international students to improve their rank.
Speaking to The Indian Express in January, Lindenthal had claimed that he was given less than a day on December 23 by the immigration office in Chennai to book his tickets, pack, vacate his room in Bhadra hostel of IIT-Madras and leave the country.
He had said that he was asked to leave after he attended three protests in Chennai against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, including one on campus.
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