German student’s deportation from Chennai kicks up a Twitter protest

The IIT-Madras student was asked to leave the country because he took part in the rally in Chennai on Monday against CAA and NRC. Don’t Indian students abroad take part in local protests?

 Jakob Lindenthal
Jakob Lindenthal

NH Web Desk

Do Indian students studying abroad take part in political protests? And if they do, would they be deported? The question occupied centrestage on Tuesday as the news spread of a German exchange student being deported after he took part in protests against CAA and NRC in Chennai.

The German student, Jakob Lindenthal, held aloft a poster which read, “1933-1945: We have been there” and another, which read, “No democracy without dissent”.

The Immigration Department asked him to leave the country by the next available flight because of his participation in the anti-CAA protests.

He was orally asked by the Immigration Department to return to his country as he has violated his visa rules.

He was pursuing his master’s degree in Physics Department from IIT-Madras under the exchange program and his visa was valid for a year, from June 2019 to June 2020, But he was forced to booked his flight tickets immediately

Was the knee-jerk reaction correct? There are those who believe that if the foreign student’s visa rules specified that he would not take part in political activities, he violated it by joining the protest. And hence the Immigration Department was right in asking him to leave.

But others felt the student had little choice if his fellow students and hostel mates were joining the protest. In any case it was a peaceful march and he may have wanted to get a first hand experience of a political protest in India. The decision to deport him, they felt, was undiplomatic and rash.

Others felt the German student was doing Indians a service. “The German is reminding us of a dark chapter in the world's history so that we may not repeat that in India. The student deserves our gratitude Where is the Director of IIT? Where is the Chairman? Let us hear from both of them. Where are the other students of IIT? They should protest the reported expulsion of a German student,” tweeted P. Chidambaram, former union minister.

Another Twitter user said, “ I was a student in Germany. German students are taught about the crimes committed by their country, about equality and freedom, civic responsibility and more about the caste system than Indians are. Proud of Jakob Lindenthal. This is what I want for my country. Indian children should be taught about what we have done to Kashmiris, the NE border states, the countless pogroms against religious minorities, adivasis, Dalits, women…If we did, IIT Physics dept profs would have spines.”

Twitterati criticising the government step, calling it ‘ sick mindset’

Other twitter user writes, “These kind of irresponsible moves can backlash Indian student community studying abroad.”

They also apologized to the German student for the ill-treatment

Some of them praises him for showing his courage by voicing against the CAA

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