A German exchange student at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras sent back to his country for participating in protests against the Citizenship Act on Wednesday said the demonstration show that political freedom and rule of law need the support of millions of people. Jakob Lindenthal thanked his supporters and well-wishers for “all the huge solidarity...legal advice and shelter”.

“These events [the protests against the Act and the National Register of Citizens] show that political freedom and rule of law need support of millions of open eyes and loud voices,” Lindenthal, who landed in the Dutch city of Amsterdam on Wednesday, wrote on Facebook. He added that he would take “some days to arrive at home and find out where the road leads”.

“I also want to bow down in front of those who cannot show their concern about ongoing political developments openly because their existences would be threatened but who still find their ways to support those who are showing their faces,” the German added.

Before leaving India on Monday, Lindenthal told The Indian Express that the Foreigners Regional Registration Office gave him oral directions to leave India immediately. During a protest in Chennai, he had carried a poster that made a reference to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler: “1933 to 1945 – we have been there.”

Lindenthal was an exchange student at IIT-Madras’ Department of Physics. An official at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office said Lindenthal had violated visa rules by attending the protest, and the institution was bound to report the matter to authorities. “This isn’t the same as deportation,” the official said. “His visa may be cancelled soon.”

The Citizenship Amendment Act grants citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from six minority religious groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, provided they have lived in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The changes have been decried as anti-Muslim.