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Chennai: 19 UK students, staff deported at airport due to visa rules

Courtesy: India Direct ( source:Deccan Chronicle)

Chennai: Sixteen UK students along with three staff were deported at Chennai airport. The teenagers were on a charity trip to tsunami-affected areas in Tamil Nadu were refused entry at Chennai airport by immigration staff pointing out the latest changes in visa rules by the Centre.

Poynton High School head teacher David Waugh left the airport in utter sadness on Tuesday morning, when they were told they couldn’t do the work of a non-government organisation. They all visited on a tourist visa, reports DC.

The children landed in Chennai carrying toys and other materials to be distributed to children’s homes supported by an NGO, India Direct. The immigration officials questioned the teacher for hours, who explained that this is the third time that the school was visiting Chennai in partnership with India Direct, an NGO based in the UK.

When immigration officials in Chennai contacted their seniors in Delhi, the officials asked their counterparts to just follow the latest visa rules and deport the passengers back to the UK in the next available flight. They were stranded for 11 hours before they left through British Airways.

“As you can imagine the staff and students are in a state of tired shock, having travelled for 48 hours on a round trip. Our hearts go out to this great team of staff and students, who have already made a real difference, and who must be so disappointed”, the deported head master posted his experience in the India Direct’s website.

“Chennai airport immigration officials claimed that the group had no rights to enter the country on their visa because they were going to be undertaking work with a non-governmental organisation. In reality, the students were going to visit the Children’s homes that they have raised thousands of pounds for, and to experience the rich, diverse and exciting culture of the region. The students and staff returned back to Manchester, via Dubai, landing at Manchester airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning, along with the toys and stationery that they had taken over for the children in the homes,” read the post. The UK team during their interaction with BBC described the Chennai airport incident as a shame.