Wednesday, January 10, 2018

‘I Was Blacklisted and Deported For My NGO Activities’ - By MUKUNDA RAJ KATTEL

NB: In the eyes of the RSS/BJP government, human rights advocacy is criminal activity. And they talk about their resistance to the Emergency! DS

On December 20, 2017,  a Bangkok-based Nepali national, who is also a human rights activist, was denied entry into India and deported after being detained for 20 hours at Tiruchirapalli airport in Tamil Nadu.  Here’s his account of the events.

At midnight on December 20, 2017, I reached Trichy Airport from Bangkok by Air Asia Flight FD-110. I was on a holiday to Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Adoor (Kerala) to participate in a few family get-togethers and celebrate Christmas with friends and colleagues. At around 0040, I reached the immigration desk. The lady officer on duty signalled that there was something wrong as soon as she keyed in my passport number. She had a surprised look and asked me to spell my name. I did so like an obedient child. She keyed in something again and with the same look, left the counter. 

Within five minutes, she returned with a male officer, probably the in-charge, and showed him what was on the computer. He read it, tried to key in my details again. He then looked at me grudgingly and instructed the lady to tell me to wait. Twenty minutes later, I went to the lady officer to enquire if there was a problem. Without a word, she signalled to the male officer asking him to come to the counter. He tried to key in my details once again, after which he firmly instructed the lady to “tell the airlines people to take their guest” and went back to his counter. I tried to talk to him, but he avoided me. I then asked the lady officer for an explanation. “You cannot go out”, she said and left the counter. I tried to talk to others but in vain.

The Air Asia ground staff, who were a witness to all this, called their senior officer who informed me that I would have to wait at the airport until a return flight was available. “We are sorry sir, we can do nothing about immigration.” I was then escorted to a room labelled “entry denied,” where I stayed for another 20 hours, protected by extremely caring armed personnel and completely cut off from friends, families and the rest of the world.

I didn’t have an Indian SIM and the airport didn’t have free Wi-Fi, so I could neither inform my friend waiting outside the airport nor my host in Madurai,  Henri Thipagne, a senior lawyer and executive director of Madurai-based People’s Watch. Both of them didn’t know why my entry into India was rejected. Worried and confused, they moved the court with a habeas corpus writ as soon as the courts began business on December 20, 2017. The court didn’t issue an interim order as asked for, but asked the immigration authorities to answer why my entry was denied.

On January 1, 2018, the chief immigration officer thus replied: “The habeas corpus petition is misconceived since the alleged detainee is not in illegal custody… The Nepali national was not allowed entry into India as he was blacklisted and is a subject of “ban entry” Look Out Circular for indulgence in NGO activities.” He denied the petitioner’s claim that my human rights were violated and “prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to dismiss HCP (MD) No. 1842 of 2017 (the case number) as devoid of merits and thus render justice.” Alas, the officer has become a victim because of me. I feel sorry for him… read more: