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Denial of entry to UK professor sparks political slugfest between Cong & BJP in Karnataka

Nitasha Kaul has alleged that she was denied entry into India to attend on the invitation of the government of Karnataka the two-day 'Constitution and National Unity Convention-2024' on February 24 and 25.
Last Updated : 26 February 2024, 11:34 IST
Last Updated : 26 February 2024, 11:34 IST

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Bengaluru: A political slugfest has erupted between the ruling Congress and the BJP in Karnataka over a United Kingdom professor being denied entry into India to attend a state government-organised conference on Constitution here.

Karnataka Ministers alleged on Monday the incident shows how the individual rights as well the rights of the state governments are being trampled upon, while the BJP described the professor at the University of Westminster Nitasha Kaul, who is also an Overseas Citizen of India, "a known terrorist sympathizer & one who constantly spews venom & disseminates anti-India propaganda."

Kaul has alleged that she was denied entry into India to attend on the invitation of the government of Karnataka the two-day 'Constitution and National Unity Convention-2024' on February 24 and 25.

"Denied entry to India for speaking on democratic & constitutional values. I was invited to a conference as esteemed delegate by Govt of Karnataka (Congress-ruled state) but Centre refused me entry. All my documents were valid & current (UK passport & OCI)," she said on 'X' on Sunday along with pictures of invitation extended to her by Karnataka government and other conference related communications.

Karnataka Social Welfare Minister H C Mahadevappa said on Monday the denial "is a fresh demonstration of how the rights of state governments are being repeatedly trampled."

"It is a stark reminder of the multiple challenges to the constitutional idea of India. All patriotic Indians must reflect on these threats and unite to reclaim our Constitution,” he said.

It is the right of the Karnataka Government to both organise a convention on Constitution and to host experts who can meaningfully contribute to how the state’s development and national interest can be furthered. "Our rights (and hence the federal principles enshrined in our Constitution) were once again undermined by the Government of India,” the Minister said.

“It cannot be selectively weaponised to circumscribe the rights of Indians (including diaspora Indians who are equal partners in the nation’s development). If we claim to be the Mother of Democracy, we need to also steadfastly adhere to all those values underpinning our democracy,” Mahadevappa said.

BJP state president B Y Vijayendra condemned the Karnataka government for inviting her.

“Highly Disgusting of the @siddaramaiah govt to whitewash the crimes of ‘TUKDE TUKDE GANG’ by inviting its sympathizer Nitasha Kaul for a talk on ‘Constitution & Unity of India’,” Vijayendra said on a social media site ‘X’.

"A known terrorist sympathizer & one who constantly spews venom & disseminates anti-India propaganda in connivance with the enemies of the Indian state is accorded a RED carpet welcome by the @INCIndia ruled Karnataka govt is Highly Condemnable & an Unpardonable crime,” the Shikaripura MLA said.

He added that it was equally disgusting that all the top leaders of the Congress party attended the conference.

“What is more worrisome & annoying of the @siddaramaiah govt is its indulgence in unwanted expenditures involving crores of rupees when our state & the farmers are already in distress owing to unprecedented drought & severe water crisis,” Vijayendra said.

Minister for Large and Medium Industries M B Patil said the incident showed 'what type of democracy is there in India, how does the BJP respects the Constitution and the status of the freedom of speech and individual freedom'.

“They (BJP) try to suppress them (liberties). This is not a good thing for our country because in our country Baba Saheb Ambedkar has given a world class Constitution where everyone’s views are respected. There is a freedom to talk,” Patil said.

Shivajinagar Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad wondered if there was any dictatorial system in the country as, he alleged, the individual’s freedom of expression was curbed.

“A state government in a federal system invites an academic who is of Indian origin but she was told by the central government that she cannot enter the country just because she doesn’t subscribe to your ideology. Is this dictatorship in the country today? Is there no freedom of expression or no freedom to participate in a debate on the Constitution?” he sought to know.

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Published 26 February 2024, 11:34 IST

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