Nitasha Kaul, a British writer of Indian origin and professor of politics at the University of Westminster in London, said in a post on X on Sunday that she was denied entry into the country on Friday and deported from Bangalore airport on the orders of the Union government, “for speaking on democractic and constitutional values”.

Kaul had been invited by the Congress government in Karnataka to speak at its Constitution and National Unity Convention on Saturday and Sunday to speak on the topic “Constitution and Democracy”. After she landed in Bengaluru, she was denied permission to leave the airport despite having a valid visa.

A Kashmiri pandit by birth, Kaul has been known for her criticisms of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Kaul is an Overseas Citizen of India. This is an immigration status that allows foreigners of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely.

In 2019, Kaul served as a key witness before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, testifying about the human rights violations in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“I was given no reason by immigration except ‘We cannot do anything, orders from Delhi’,” Kaul said on X. “I received no notice or info in advance from Delhi that I would not be allowed to enter.” She was deported back to London on a British Airways flight 24 hours after she first landed in India.

Kaul alleged that she had spent several hours at immigration, was provided with little information about the situation and was then held in a cell for 24 hours under CCTV observation. Her movements were restricted in the cell that had only a narrow area for her to lie down, without easy access to food and water.

“[I] made dozens of calls to airport for basic things such as a pillow and blanket, which they refused to provide,” Kaul said on X.

She alleged: “The officials informally made references to my criticism of the RSS, a far-right Hindu nationalist paramilitary from years ago. I have traveled to India numerous times since. I was invited by a state government but refused entry by the central government.”

For years, Kaul said, she has been threatened with rape and death by “right wing Hindutva trolls” but had dismissed them as petty. On Sunday, she expressed concern for her personal safety, saying, “If I come to any accident, it probably merits a closer look.”

Kaul also compared herself to “the ranks of the Tibetan exiles and Ukrainian exiles, and others throughout history who have faced the arbitrary exercise of brute unreasoning power”.

Also read: Kashmiri writer Nitasha Kaul, who was a panellist at the 'Head to Head' discussion at the Oxford Union, lists the Modi government's sins of commission and omission.