A BRITISH Opposition lawmaker, who had criticised India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 last year, said Monday that she was denied entry to the country and deported after she landed at Delhi airport despite holding a visa.
The government, however, denied the claim and said Labour Party MP Debbie Abrahams had landed in Delhi despite being informed that her visa “had been cancelled much earlier”. “She had been duly informed about the cancellation. Yet, she arrived,” a Home Ministry official said.
Abrahams, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir, said she was travelling on a valid e-visa to India to visit family and friends but the visa was revoked without explanation.
Abrahams’ e-visa was reportedly issued last October, and was valid until October 2020. Government sources said Abrahams did not hold a “valid visa” to visit India, and that e-visa is for the limited purpose of tourism, and not for any other activity — business, political or official.
A British High Commission spokesperson said, “We are in contact with the Indian authorities to understand why Deborah Abrahams MP was denied entry to India. We provided consular assistance to her whilst she was in New Delhi Airport.”
Recounting her experience at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Abrahams said in a statement on Twitter that she arrived Monday morning and was informed that her e-visa had been cancelled.
She said she had presented herself at the Immigration desk along with her documents and e-visa. “…the official looked at his screen and started shaking his head. Then he told me my visa was rejected took my passport and disappeared for about 10 minutes. When he came back he was very rude and aggressive shouting at me to ‘come with me’. I told him not to speak to me like that and was then taken to a cordoned-off area marked as a Deportee Cell. He then ordered me to sit down and I refused. I didn’t know what they might do or where else they may take me, so I wanted people to see me,” the British MP claimed.
The Immigration officer disappeared again, she said, adding that she then phoned her sister-in-law’s cousin with whom she was planning to stay. “(He) got in touch with the British High Commission and he tried to find out what was going on,” she wrote on Twitter.
She claimed that later several Immigration officials came to her but none of them knew why her e-visa was cancelled. “Even the person who seemed to be in charge said he didn’t know and was really sorry about what had happened,” Abrahams claimed.
“Just to be clear, I have Indian relatives who I was meant to be visiting with & have Indian members of staff accompanying me. The reason I got into politics is advance social justice & human rights FOR ALL. I will continue to challenge my own Government & others on these issues,” she tweeted.
Abrahams was among a group of British MPs who had criticised the J&K move last August. “We are gravely concerned at the announcement by Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah, that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, has been removed by Presidential Order,” the Opposition MP had noted in a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the time.
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