British MP critical of govt's Article 370 move denied India entry, deported

British MP Debbie Abraham. Photo: Twitter
Days after the Indian government flew a second batch of diplomats from various countries to Jammu and Kashmir, a British MP who had previously criticised the abrogation of Article 370 on Monday claimed that she was denied entry into India, despite having a valid visa. Labour Party MP Debbie Abraham, who landed at the Delhi airport, was deported to Dubai. The Home Ministry maintained that it had informed her about her e-visa being cancelled. 

Abrahams chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir and was among a group of MPs who issued formal letters following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status in 2019.

The parliamentarian said she was travelling on a valid e-visa to India to visit family and friends but her visa was revoked without explanation. "I became a politician to promote social justice and human rights for all. I will continue to challenge my own government and others while injustice and abuse is unchecked," she tweeted. 

She further raised questions on the development and asked, "Why did the Indian Government revoke my visa after it was granted? Why didn't they let me get a 'visa on arrival'? Is it because I have been critical of the Indian Government on Kashmir human rights issues?"

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.

— Debbie Abrahams (@Debbie_abrahams) February 17, 2020

When contacted, Abrahams told PTI that she "had not received any emails before February 13". After that, she had been travelling and was away from her office. Her office in the UK confirmed she was put on a plane to Dubai, which is from where she flew into Delhi from earlier on Monday.

PTI reported that the legislator's e-visa was reportedly issued last October, and was valid until October 2020.

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. When he came back he was very rude and aggressive, shouting at me to come with him. 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 said.

Reacting to the incident, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the conduct was really unworthy of democracy and sure to give us a far worse press than her admission into the country would have. 

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