New Delhi: India on Monday denied entry to British MP Debbie Abrahams after she landed at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on the grounds that she didn’t have a valid visa. The Labour MP has been a bitter critic of New Delhi’s move last year to revoke Article 370 that granted a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking on the developments, Indian government sources told this newspaper: “Ms Abrahams was not in possession of a valid Indian visa when she landed. It had been conveyed to her in advance well before she boarded a flight to India that her visa had been revoked. Despite that, she chose to board the flight. It was also a mistake of the concerned airline.” Ms Abrahams was later deported to Dubai.
Ms Abrahams, who claimed she was treated “like a criminal” and spoken to “rudely”, arrived at the airport on a Emirates flight from Dubai at 9 am, reports said.
Ms Abrahams has been a member of Parliament since 2011 and was said to have come on what was to have been a two-day personal trip to India.
When contacted, a British high commission spokesperson said: “We are in contact with the Indian authorities to understand why Deborah (Debbie) Abrahams, MP, was denied entry to India. We provided consular assistance to her whilst she was in New Delhi Airport.”
The British MP was, meanwhile, quoted as saying: “Along with everyone else, I presented myself at the immigration desk with my documents, including my e-visa, had my photograph taken and then the official looked at his screen and started shaking his head. Then he told me my visa was rejected, took my passport and disappeared for about 10 minutes. When he came back, he was very rude and aggressive, shouting at me to ‘come with me’.”
“I told him not to speak to me like that and was then taken to a cordoned-off area marked as a Deportee Cell. He then ordered me to sit down, and I refused. I didn’t know what they might do or where else they may take me, so I wanted people to see me,” she said.
Ms Abrahams was also quoted as saying: “I tried to establish why the visa had been revoked and if I could get a ‘visa on arrival’ but no one seemed to know. Even the person who seemed to be in charge said he didn’t know and was really sorry about what had happened. So now I am just waiting to be deported... unless the Indian government has a change of heart. I’m prepared to let the fact that I’ve been treated like a criminal go, and I hope they will let me visit my family and friends.” The British MP had last year apparently written a letter to India’s high commissioner to the UK, saying the action (of revoking Article 370) “betrays the trust of the people” of Kashmir.
Ms Abrahams later tweeted: “Just to be clear, I have Indian relatives who I was meant to be visiting with, and have Indian members of staff accompanying me. The reason I got into politics is to advance social justice and human rights for all. I will continue to challenge my own government and others on these issues.”
Ms Abrahams chairs a British parliamentary group that focuses on Kashmir.