Kashmiri professor Nitasha Kaul denied entry to Bengaluru, deported to UK

Kaul was a key witness at a session of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning the human rights violations in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370

Writer, academic and activist Nitasha Kaul, a vocal critic of the right-wing RSS, was allegedly detained for nearly 24 hours upon her arrival at the Bengaluru Airport before being deported to London.

The incident took place on February 23. Recounting her experience, Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit by birth, wrote on X that she was denied entry by immigration authorities even after having a valid UK passport and an OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card.

Kaul was invited by the Congress-run Karnataka government to deliver a lecture at a conference on the topic ‘The Constitution and the Unity of India’. The conference was held on February 24 and 25.

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Upon her arrival, she was whisked away by the immigration authorities who did not give her any reason for their conduct.

On repeated questioning, she was told that she had been refused entry into India for being a strong critic of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, she said in a post on X.

“The officials informally made references to my criticism of RSS, a far-right Hindu nationalist paramilitary from years ago. I have travelled to India numerous times since. I was invited by a state govt, but refused entry by the Central govt,” she wrote.

“I was given no reason by immigration except ‘we cannot do anything, orders from Delhi’. My travel & logistics had been arranged by Karnataka & I had the official letter with me. I received no notice or info in advance from Delhi that I would not be allowed to enter,” she wrote on X.

Kaul alleged she was harassed and denied basic facilities such as food, water or a pillow.

“I am a globally respected academic & public intellectual, passionate about liberal democratic values. I care for gender equity, challenging misogyny, sustainability, civil & political liberties, rule of law. I am not anti-Indian, I am anti-authoritarian & pro-democracy,” she said. 

Kaul, who is a professor from the University of Westminster, was one of the key witnesses at a United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning the human rights violations in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP-led Central government.

She had voiced her disappointment against the propaganda movie The Kashmir Files where she stated that the film failed to showcase Kashmir’s history and politics and painted a picture of Islamophobia ‘palatable and profitable to Hindutva India’.

“It should offend all Indians, Hindus, Muslims, Kashmiri Muslims, men, women and others who have ever cared for humanity across religious lines. Yet, the very fact that the movie, backed by those who control the state, makes such an effort to malign solidarity among Kashmiris across Hindu-Muslim divides and traduce solidarity between Indians and Kashmiris is, perhaps, reflective of how such solidarities for justice and peace are urgent and growing,” she had written. 

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