Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Acclaimed academic of Kashmiri origin, Nitasha Kaul, not allowed to enter India, detained and deported to London

Nitasha Kaul, a British writer of Kashmiri descent and a politics professor at the University of Westminster in London, alleged that she was denied entry to India on the orders of the Union government, “for speaking on democractic and constitutional values.”

“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),” Kaul posted on X on Sunday.

She further said: “I was given no reason by immigration except ‘we cannot do anything, orders from Delhi’. My travel & logistics had been arranged by Karnataka & I had the official letter with me. I received no notice or info in advance from Delhi that I would not be allowed to enter.”

“I spent 12 hours in a flight from London to Bangalore, several hours at immig where they shuttled me here & there, provided no info on process, then 24 hours in a holding cell (no BA flight back until next day) under direct cctv w restricted movement, a narrow area to lie down and no easy access to food and water, made dozens of calls to airport for basic things as a pillow and blanket, which they refused to provide, then 12 hours on the flight back to London,” she alleged.

Kaul went on to say: “I am a globally respected academic & public intellectual, passionate about liberal democratic values. I care for gender equity, challenging misogyny, sustainability, civil & political liberties, rule of law.
I am not anti-Indian, I am anti-authoritarian & pro-democracy.”

Kaul said the officials informally made references to her criticism of RSS, a far-right Hindu nationalist paramilitary from years ago.

“Decades of my work speaks for me. The officials informally made references to my criticism of RSS, a far-right Hindu nationalist paramilitary from years ago. I have travelled to India numerous times since. I was invited by a state govt, but refused entry by the central govt,” she said.

Her posts on X read: “Rightwing #HindutvaTrolls have for years threatened me w death, rape, ban etc. In the past, authorities have sent police to my elderly ailing mother’s home to intimidate, even though I live in UK & my work has no connexion to her, a pious temple-going dezhor-wearing retired Hindi teacher & my sole surviving parent.”

“I’ve always dismissed such threats as petty (since 2014, disinvite from arranged talk at Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, withdrawal of already publicised lecture on gender at JNU etc all without any official reason/explanation). When I was speaking on AI & Buddhism in a third country, an Indian official there tried to strong-arm me into giving them advice & info on that country too, which I refused and registered a complaint on email in writing, which closed with Tagore’s poem: ‘where the mind is without fear’. BTW, I am not averse to advising govts, policymakers, or to engagements with a state. However, I should be asked politely, respected for my views & time, and not bullied or coerced + I have to respect the values of those in power,” Kaul added.

Kaul asserted that she will not advise or consult with those who condone violence, foster hate, and repress their population in any country.

“You cannot buy me or bully me, and it is always a No to those who do not believe in decency,” she said.

She went on to say: “I am deeply knowledgeable about multiple countries and worlds. I work across a range of disciplines, themes and geographical regions. Regarding the political transformation in India since 2014, I have years of analytical peer-reviewed published work. I have also made important connexions in study of transnational repression, use of misogyny as a political strategy in authoritarian projects that undermine democracy, & rise of global right-wing. Also esp. on India, I know it very well. I am well versed in several languages, & can outdo any supposed defender of Hinduism when it comes to knowledge about religion, including the Sanskrit incantantations.”

“My origin is from a downtown mohalla in Srinagar, Kashmir and I was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh — the land of saffron to the ‘saffronisation’ heartland,” the scholar said.

“This is about the threat to me & my safety, & the important impact of my work that worries anti-democratic sensibilities (although as I said after speaking as an expert witness at the US Congress, given how I have been repeatedly threatened, if I come to any accident, it probably merits a closer look).”

Kaul, in an emotional note, wrote: “I hope that I can see & touch my mother again. I love you mom. ❤️🥹💔
The heart-breaking price of critical scholarship, sadly, even in contemporary era!”

“How can the world’s largest democracy be threatened by my pen & the word? How is it ok for centre to not allow a professor to be at a conference on Constitution where she was invited by state govt? To give no reason? Not the India we cherish, is it?” Kaul concluded her posts on X.

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