'Leave India notice'
Visva-Bharati teachers to fight for Bangladeshi student
Published : Friday, 28 February, 2020 at 11:09 PM Count : 450
A group of Visva-Bharati teachers and students has pledged legal and moral support to a Bangladeshi girl who was asked by the Centre to leave India for “anti-government activities” after she posted on Facebook pictures of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at the university, The Telegraph reports.
The foreigners’ regional registration office or FRRO of the Union home ministry on Wednesday served a notice on Afsara Anika Meem, a first-year undergraduate student at the university’s Kala Bhavan, asking her to leave India within 15 days.
Afsara hails from Kushtia in Bangladesh and went to India in late 2018 to pursue her Bachelor of Design degree at the department of fine arts.
As the student wondered how to handle the situation, a section of teachers got in touch with senior lawyers in Kolkata on Thursday to seek legal remedy against the order.
“The girl had posted a few photographs on social media and on the basis of that, she has been asked to leave the country. We have already contacted a senior lawyer of Kolkata High Court and will extend all support to her,” The Telegraph quoted a senior professor of Visva-Bharati as saying.
The marching order to Afsara could be legally contested because there was no evidence in the notice of her involvement in the “anti-government activities”, according to High Court lawyer Samim Ahmed.
“I have gone through the order and her Facebook posts. The order does not cite any particular activity that shows she went against the government. She has the right to comment and it is a very vague reason for the Centre to ask her to leave the country. The order was served even without hearing her,” said Ahmed, one of the lawyers contacted by the teachers.
“I will extend legal support to her,” he added.
Students and teachers criticised the “leave-India notice” to the Bangaldeshi girl.
“Ours is a free country where US President Donald Trump can be invited even after proposing to mediate between India and Pakistan, but a girl from Bangladesh can’t post on Facebook photographs of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The order has meted injustice to her,” said Somnath Sow, an SFI leader at Visva-Bharati.
To protest against the incident, they have called a meeting cutting across political lines on Monday, Sow added.
Afsara visited the FRRO office Kolkata where officials apparently told her that they could not do anything as the matter was under the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
“The officials concerned have suggested that she can write to a few offices explaining her side of the story,” one of her friends said.
The students, who participated in the anti-CAA protests at Visva-Bharati, confirmed that Afsara was not involved in any such events.
“Visva-Bharati is a place where students from various countries come for study and become our friends. The maximum number of foreign students come from Bangladesh. I can confirm that she did not participate in any protest at all. We are with her,” said Swapnanil Mukherjee, an economics student at Visva-Bharati.
Visva-Bharati has around 100 students from Bangladesh and many of them are afraid following the leave-India letter to Afsara, said sources.
“Many Bangladeshi students had gone to see protests against things ranging from free hike to the CAA. Afsara had only posted a few photographs on Facebook. This is a scary situation for us,” said a student from Bangladesh.
However, leaders of ABVP, a right-wing student organisation at Visva-Bharati are happy with the action against Afsara. They had written to vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty on Jan 23 demanding inquiry and action against her.
They had sent a copy of the letter to the offices of the Prime Minister and the foreign minister in Delhi.
“We had pointed out the girl’s role in the anti-CAA protest in our letter to the VC,” said ABVP leader Apoorva Sharod.