NEW DELHI (Web Desk) – A German student namely Jakob Lindenthal, who participated in protests against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Chennai, was asked by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) officials to leave India.
According to the local media reports in India, Lindenthal, a student from the Technical University of Dresden on an exchange programme at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, was informed that he had been in violation of visa regulations.
During the protests, Lindenthal had said, “The Indian constitution is a secular one and what the ruling government is doing is a clear form of discrimination. I am from Germany and I am aware of what happens when this form of discrimination is taken too far.”
Lindenthal was summoned to the BOI office on Monday and was asked about his views on Indian politics and the anti-CAA protests. After the inquiry, he was told that he would have to leave the country immediately and reapply for a visa if he wanted to visit again.
Though the German Consulate offered to give him contacts of lawyers for help, feeling unsafe, he decided to leave, sources at IIT told the local media.
Lindenthal said he had received “oral directions” from immigration authorities to leave India from the Foreigners Regional Registration Office in (FRRO) in Chennai.
“After the Nazi era, many people claimed not to have known anything about genocides or atrocities or stated that they were only passive," said Lindenthal as reported by Deutsche Welle, a German state-owned public international broadcaster.
"Therefore, I see it as a duty to learn from these lessons and not only watch when things happen that one believes to be the stepping stones to a possibly very dangerous development,” he said.
‘We have been there’
During the protests, Lindenthal had held a placard inscribed with “1933-1945. We have been there” while making reference to the Nazi regime in Germany. Another placard read: “No Democracy without dissent”.
"I felt the gratefulness of many people in the protest for the solidarity from a foreigner, so I wanted to give them at least my moral support again after having attended the protest march on the campus of IIT Madras," Lindenthal told DW.
When asked what he would do next, he said he would like "to return safely and without disturbance and celebrate Christmas with my family," then "consider possible options to return to India to continue my studies." He is still waiting to leave India for Germany.
"As a backup plan, which I deem the most likely to happen, I will return to TU Dresden and try to catch up with the courses of the winter semester, take the experience as a lesson and implement my understanding of it in my political activities for the Green Party of Germany."
‘Lindenthal gets support’
ChintaBAR, a left-leaning student body at the IIT Madras in Chennai, voiced solidarity with Lindenthal in a post on Twitter.
"ChintaBAR extend solidarity and gratitude to Jakob Lindenthal, for being part of struggles to protect the rights of people in this country and his concern for humanity," it stated.
It has come to our notice that, Jakob Lindenthal, an MS exchange student from Germany in the department of Physics at IIT Madras has been asked to leave the country by the immigration department due to his participation in the anti CAA protests. pic.twitter.com/fKSgmkK0A0- ChintaBAR (@ChintaBAR) December 23, 2019
The German Foreign Office told DW that the German Consulate General in Chennai was "in contact with the person concerned before his departure."
Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of students across India have protested against a proposed law that would provide citizenship opportunities for non-Muslim migrants, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians – but not Muslims – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Activists have called the bill discriminatory, saying it forms part of a government campaign aimed at disenfranchising Indian Muslims.