Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has asked the HRD Ministry to revoke the expulsion of a German student pursuing his Masters at IIT Madras after he was asked to leave the country following his participation in an anti-Citizenship Act protest (CAA).
“This is dismaying. We used to be a proud democracy, an example to the world. No democracy punishes freedom of expression,” Tharoor said.
“I call on Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (HRD Minister) to instruct IIT Madras to withdraw the expulsion and allow India to hold head high in the academic world,” he added.
Just a few days ago, when countrywide agitation against CAA was at its peak, Jakob Lindenthal, a German student in the Department of Physics at IIT-M – part of a one-year exchange programme – was asked to leave the country immediately after he attended one of the protests against CAA and NRC.
This is dismaying. We used to be a proud democracy, an example to the world: https://t.co/M1MU3CyJVT No democracy punishes freedom of expression. I call on @DrRPNishank to instruct @iitmadras to withdraw the expulsion & allow India to hold its head high in the academic world.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 24, 2019
On December 16, students of IIT Madras assembled at the Gajendra Circle inside the IIT campus and carried out a march to the Himalaya block. Their march was in solidarity with the students of Jamia and AMU. The students were also demanding the Centre to revoke the CAA and NRC.
Lindenthal was one of the protesters present during the demonstration. When India Today TV spoke to him at IIT, he said, “I’m here in solidarity and for human rights”.
Soon after, he received oral directions from the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai to leave the country.
The German student, who was scheduled to leave India after his exams next year, said he was in Bengaluru when he was asked to meet FRRO officials in Chennai.
Lindenthal had participated in an anti-CAA-NRC protest in Chennai just a few days ago. At the protest, he carried a poster that said: “1933 to 1945; we have been there.” This was a reference to the extreme Nazi regime in Germany during the period.
Sharing a detailed account, Lindenthal said when he reached Chennai, his course coordinator advised him to meet immigration officials immediately.
When he reached the FRRO, the officials cited administrative issues related to his residential permit in India. Next, the officials started asking him about politics and his hobbies.
He mentioned to a national daily that the officials inquired him why he participated in the anti-CAA protests. Just when their discussion was about to end, the officials said he may have to leave the country immediately for violating student visa rules.
When Lindenthal asked for a written letter from the authorities, they just returned his passport and asked him to leave. They assured Lindenthal that he would get a written letter as well, but he has not yet received it. He then rushed back to the IIT campus, booked his tickets and left for the airport.
He also got a call from IIT-M Dean’s office following his encounter with the FRRO. She, too, suggested Lindenthal leave immediately.
Lindenthal said he loves IIT-M and India but joined the protests against CAA and NRC as he is concerned about illiberal extremes in the country. He also mentioned that nobody is ever evicted from Germany for participating in a legal demonstration.