Debbie Abrahams at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India.
Gulf Today Report
A British lawmaker, known for raising voice for the oppressed people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), was deported from India after landing at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Monday.
Debbie Abrahams, a Labour Party member who chairs a parliamentary group focused on the disputed region of Kashmir, was unable to clear customs after her valid Indian visa was rejected, the aide, Harpreet Upal, said.
Abrahams and Upal arrived at the airport on an Emirates flight from Dubai at 9am. Abrahams said immigration officials did not cite any reason for denying her entry, but continued to shout that she didn't have a visa.
The visa she showed at customs, a copy of which was shared with the AP, permitted her to "attend technical/business meetings,” and expired in October 2020.
A spokesman for India's foreign ministry did not immediately comment.
"I tried to establish why the visa had been revoked and if I could get a ‘visa on arrival’ but no one seemed to know. Even the person who seemed to be in charge said he didn’t know and was really sorry about what had happened. So now I am just waiting to be deported unless the Indian Government has a change of heart. I’m prepared to let the fact that I’ve been treated like a criminal go, and I hope they will let me visit my family and friends,” she said.
In a phone interview while awaiting her return flight to the UK, Abrahams said that she'd be trying to organise a visit to India-controlled Kashmir with the India High Commission in London since October, but had been unsuccessful. She had, however, received permission to visit Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and was planning to fly to Islamabad later this week.
"It was implied to me that it was linked to that,” Abrahams said, referring to a conversation with officials at the UK High Commission in New Delhi.
"They were also aware of the trip to Pakistan. It looks as though politics is playing a part in this action,” she said.
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 federal 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 the action "betrays the trust of the people” of Kashmir.
Access to the region remains tight, with no foreign journalists allowed.
In a statement, Abrahams related her ordeal in Delhi.
"I tried to establish why the visa had been revoked and if I could get a ‘visa on arrival’ but no one seemed to know," she said.
"Even the person who seemed to be in charge said he didn’t know and was really sorry about what had happened. So now I am just waiting to be deported ... unless the Indian Government has a change of heart. I’m prepared to let the fact that I’ve been treated like a criminal go, and I hope they will let me visit my family and friends.”
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