The Mumbai Police have ordered an investigation after a 27-year-old PhD student alleged that an immigration officer at the Mumbai International Airport refused to clear him because he could not speak Hindi, the Mumbai Mirror reported on Thursday.
Abraham Samuel, a student at a university in the United States, took to Twitter on Tuesday to report the incident. In a series of tweets, he claimed he was “denied immigration” by an officer in counter 33 at the Mumbai’s Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport “for knowing only Tamil and English and not Hindi”.
“What a disaster! Reported the officer, hope they take action,” he wrote on Twitter. “The immigration officer not only did not continue to speak to me in English, but suggested that I find a Tamil immigration counter! The central government needs to be reminded often that Tamil Nadu is also a part of India! Disgusting behavior [sic] by an immigration officer in Mumbai airport.”
Samuel claimed that the officer “clearly profiled” him, saw his Indian passport and assumed that he should know Hindi. “No one in India should be denied immigration for not knowing Hindi,” he added in another tweet. “I’m proud to be an Indian and even more proud to be a Tamil! If that’s a problem with you, then you are not fit to call yourselves Indians!” He added that the officer had allowed a foreigner before him, who spoke in English.
“I’m Indian, I DON’T SPEAK HINDI! DEAL WITH IT! Don’t abuse Indians who speak their own beautiful languages,” he added. “The only reason i left was because my flight was scheduled to be boarded at 1:00 AM. Otherwise i would have stayed to lodge a formal complaint against this nincampoop (sic)! How do idiots like him make way into the indian government? He is a disgrace!”
“He repeatedly asked me to go to Tamil Nadu,” Samuel told the Mumbai Mirror. “After complaining about this officer to the immigration office, when they produced this officer before me, he didn’t change his behaviour. He again said that I should know Hindi being in India or go to Tamil Nadu, even in front of his supervisors.”
His tweets tagged several politicians and leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, following which some users claimed his tweets were politically motivated.
“Yes, some people on Twitter are accusing me of having an agenda,” he told the daily in response to the criticism. “I’m just another Indian, and I raise my voice when needed. My true frustration is [that] everywhere else, except in India, they respect me and my language.” He added that he will email a formal complaint to the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and seek an apology from the officer.
Additional Commissioner of Police Special Branch II, CID Supriya Patil-Yadav said the department was conducting an investigation to see if the allegation are correct. “If it’s correct, I must say it’s very unfortunate and that such unprofessional, insensitive conduct was exhibited by the immigration officer,” Patil-Yadav said. The investigation is expected to reach its conclusion by Thursday. Another police official said stress may have caused the immigration officer to act out in such a manner.