British MP Deported for Defying National Interest: Govt Sources
Abrahams has been a member of Parliament since 2011 and was on a two-day personal trip to India.
A day after British lawmaker Debbie Abrahams was denied entry into India at India Gandhi International Airport, government sources told The Quint on Tuesday, 18 February, that her e-Business Visa was “revoked on 14 February on account of indulging in activities against India's national interest.”
“The rejection of the e-Business Visa was intimated to her on 14 February itself,” the government sources added.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom said that Abrahams did not hold a valid visa. According to MHA sources, she was informed about her e-visa “with due process.”
The UK Indian Mission further stated that “there is no provision for visa on arrival for UK nationals. She was accordingly requested to return.”
Debbie Abrahams, a Labour Party Member of Parliament who chairs a parliamentary group focused on Kashmir, was unable to clear customs after her valid Indian visa was rejected, an accompanying aide, Harpreet Upal, told The Associated Press.
Abrahams and Upal arrived at the airport on an Emirates flight from Dubai at 9 am.
However, earlier Upal said the immigration officials did not cite any reason for denying Abrahams entry and revoking her visa, a copy of which, valid until October 2020, was shared with AP. A spokesman for India's foreign ministry did not immediately comment.
What Are Authorities Saying?
The government sources further stated, “In any case, previously issued e-Business Visa meant for business meetings, can't be used for visiting family and friends, as claimed by her. This is not permitted as per the rules and a separate visa request has to be made.”
Meanwhile, Abrahams posted the letter of Indian authorities issuing the e-visa to her in October 2019.
However, the government’s statement said, “The MP was issued an e-Business Visa on 7 October 2019, valid till 5 October 2020 to attend business meetings.”
Government sources also pointed out that the “grant, rejection, revocation of visa/electronic travel authorisation is the sovereign right of any country.”
She was deported to Dubai from where she had flown into the Indian capital.
Abrahams has been a member of Parliament since 2011 and was on a two-day personal trip to India, she said in a statement.
‘Nobody Told Me Why My Visa Was Rejected’
In her statement, Abrahams 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.”Debbie Abrahams, Labour Party Member of Parliament
“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 added.
The immigration officer disappeared again, she said, adding that she phoned her sister-in-law's cousin who she was going to be staying with.
“Kai got in touch with the British High Commission and he tried to find out what was going on,” she wrote on Twitter.
She said 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 added.
'If All Fine in Kashmir, Why Scared of Critics?': Tharoor
Reacting to Abrahams' deportation, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked why the government was scared of critics if it claimed the situation in Kashmir was normal.
“The conduct is really unworthy of a democracy and guaranteed to give us a far worse press than if she had been admitted,” he said on Twitter.
‘A Pakistan Proxy’
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Tuesday, 18 February, said that the deportation of Abrahams was necessary as she is a Pakistan proxy.
“The deportation of Debbie Abrahams by India was indeed necessary, as she is not just an MP, but a Pakistan proxy known for her clasp with Pakistan government and ISI. Every attempt that tries to attack India’s sovereignty must be thwarted,” Singhvi said on Twitter.
Abrahams, a Critic of Art 370’s Revocation
Abrahams has been an outspoken critic of the Indian government's move last August stripping Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and demoting it from a state to a union territory.
Shortly after the changes to Kashmir's status were passed by India's Parliament, Abrahams wrote a letter to India's High Commissioner to the UK, saying that the action “betrays the trust of the people” of Kashmir.
Abrahams was among a group of MPs who issued formal letters following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 in August last year.
“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 her letter to the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the time.
(With inputs from AP, ANI, PTI)
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