Bangladeshi student asked to leave India for participating in anti-CAA protests

Published : February 28, 2020 18:26 IST

Students of Visva Bharati University taking part in a rally in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Santiniketan in Birbhum district of West Bengal on December 23, 2019. Photo: PTI

A 20-year-old Bangladeshi student pursuing arts in Visva Bharati University, West Bengal, Afsara Anika Meem, has been asked by the Centre to leave the country for indulging in “anti-government activities”. Afsara Anika Meem, who has reportedly denied personally taking part in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), had uploaded pictures of the protests on social media. The notification sent to her was dated February 14, and issued by the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) under the Ministry of External Affairs.

The “Leave India Notice” from the FRRO, Kolkata, states:

“Whereas Afsara Anika Meem, holder of Bangladesh passport… Bangladeshi national, is present in India on the strength of S-1 (Student) visa… studying a course on Bachelor of Design at Visva Bharati University, West Bengal.

And whereas she is found to have engaged in anti-government activities,

And such activities being a breach of her visa has thus committed visa violation.

Therefore, in exercise of powers conferred by Sub-section (2) ( c ) of Section 3 of the Foreigners’ Act, 1946 (XXXI of 1946) I Karma Tshering Bhutia, being the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Officer, Kolkata, in pursuance of Ministry Home Affairs, Government of India Notification No. S.O3259(E)…

Order that the above mentioned foreigner

(i) Shall not remain in India and

(ii) Shall depart from India within 15 days of receipt of this order.”

Following the receipt of the notice, Afsara Anika Meem reportedly visited the FRRO office in Kolkata on February 27. She had, in the meanwhile, deactivated her social media account, after apparently being trolled for uploading pictures of the protest.

The Centre’s move to send Afsara Anika Meem back to not allow her to continue with her studies and send her back to Bangladesh has caused a stir in political circles as well.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has demanded that the order be revoked. “What was the need for such a drastic step to be taken against a student? There is no reason or logic behind such a move. We do not think she has violated any rules applicable to foreign students. She has not taken any part in the politics of the land by associating herself with any political party or with an organisation. If she is being thrown out of the country for expressing her personal opinion on social media, then, in our opinion, it is a premeditated, calculated, communal move against her because of her identity. We are protesting against this. Only by revoking this order can some dignity be salvaged for the country,” veteran CPI(M) leader and seven-time Lok Sabha MP Ramchandra Dom told Frontline.

According to senior Trinamool Congress leader and head of the Department of International Relations, Jadavpur University, Om Prakash Mishra, a functional, constitutional democracy like India is expected to “maintain a high standard for accepting and tolerating dissenting views”.

“It would be a travesty of freedom of speech and expression to consider a shared Facebook post to bring down the might of the state on a young student from a neighbouring country. Moreover, the issue relates to a subject which has moved millions of people to register protest against a law that is manifestly unconstitutional. Under the circumstances the expulsion of the young student is an ill-advised move of the government,” Mishra told Frontline.

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