The Indian High Commission in London on Tuesday confirmed that British MP Debbie Abrahams was deported to Dubai on Monday as she did not “hold a valid visa”. The Labour Party MP had alleged that immigration officials at the Delhi airport on Monday did not give her any reason for denying her entry into India and cancelling her visa, which she said was valid till October 2020.
“Mission has confirmed from the Indian immigration authorities that Ms Debbie Abrahams did not hold a valid visa,” it tweeted. “Further, there is no provision for visa on arrival for UK nationals. She was accordingly requested to return.”
Abrahams has been openly critical of the Indian administration’s amendments to Article 370 of its Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. She is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir.
She had clarified on Monday that she was in India on a personal trip to meet her family, and would promote human rights and social justice for all. Abrahams was also among a group of British parliamentarians who had sent out a formal letter after India’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, raising concerns about the move.
The United Kingdom Foreign Office on Tuesday said that consular access had been provided to the British MP. “We are in contact with the Indian authorities, and the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth has spoken with the Indian High Commissioner to establish why the individual concerned was denied entry to India,” a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
In an account of what happened after she reached the Delhi airport, Abrahams said: “Along with everyone else, I presented myself at the immigration desk with my documents including my e-visa, had my photograph taken and then the official looked at his screen and started shaking his head. Then he told me my visa was rejected, took my passport and disappeared for about 10 minutes. When he came back he was very rude and aggressive shouting at me to ‘come with me’.”
Abrahams said she was then taken to a room marked as a “deportee cell”, but refused an order to sit down. She said she called up her sister-in-law’s cousin Kai, who she was planning to stay with. “Kai got in touch with the British High Commission and they tried to find out what was going on,” Abrahams said. Following this, many immigration officials visited her, Abrahams said, but nobody seemed to know why her visa had been rejected.
“I tried to establish why the visa had been revoked and if I could get a ‘visa on arrival’ but no one seemed to know,” Abrahams said.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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi described Abrahams as a “Pakistani proxy”, and claimed her being denied entry to India was a necessity. This came a day after his party colleague and MP Shashi Tharoor criticised Abrahams’ deportation.
On August 5 last year, India had imposed a lockdown in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir while stripping its special status. The Indian government had also bifurcated the state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. In recent months, the government has put several senior political leaders from Kashmir under the stringent Public Security Act.
India has allowed two groups of foreign envoys to visit Srinagar over the past six months. The first case was a visit by mostly far-right MEPs of the European Parliament. A second visit by envoys took place earlier this month.