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It's a 'sovereign decision': Centre defends KIA immigration officials’ decision to deny entry to UK academic

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi underlined that it was the sovereign prerogative of the Government of India to allow or deny entry of the citizens of foreign nations to the country.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 15:06 IST

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday defended the decision of the immigration officials to deny Nitasha Kaul, an academician based in the United Kingdom, entry to India after she landed at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru on February 22 last to attend a conference organised by the Government of Karnataka.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi underlined that it was the sovereign prerogative of the Government of India to allow or deny entry of the citizens of foreign nations to the country.

Nitasha Kaul, the Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London, alleged that the immigration officials at the KIA, Bengaluru, had informally made references to her criticism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but had not cited any reason for denying her entry, except saying that they had been going by orders from Delhi. She spent a night in a ‘holding cell’ at the KIA before being made to board a flight back to London on the next day.

“This particular UK national came to India on February 22. As you know, entry of foreign nationals into our country is a sovereign decision,” Randhir Jaiswal, the spokesperson of the MEA, told journalists in New Delhi. He was responding to a query on the response of the Government of India to the allegation by Kaul, a professor at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Westminster in London.

She had been invited by H C Mahadevappa, the social welfare minister of the Government of Karnataka, to attend the conference on “The Constitution and Unity of India” held in Bengaluru on February 24 and 25. She alleged that she had been denied entry despite having a valid UK passport and an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.

A ‘Person of Indian Origin’, registered as an OCI, is granted multiple entry, multi-purpose, life-long visa for visiting India, and is exempted from registration with the Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India.

The Union government recently cancelled the OCI card issued to Ashok Swain, an academician based in Sweden and a well-known critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. It conveyed to the Delhi High Court that the OCI registration of Swain had been cancelled as he had been found indulging in “illegal activities inimical” to the interests of the sovereignty, integrity, and security of India.

French journalist Vanessa Dougnac also had to leave India recently after the government initiated the process to cancel her OCI registration.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 15:06 IST)

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