Denial of entry to UK professor sparks political slugfest in Karnataka

“Highly disgusting of Siddaramaiah govt to whitewash crimes of Tukde Tukde Gang by inviting its sympathiser Nitasha Kaul for a talk,” says BJP state president

Dr Nitasha Kaul (pictured) was denied entry after landing in Bengaluru on state government invite, to the BJP's exultation (photo: @NitashaKaul/X)
Dr Nitasha Kaul (pictured) was denied entry after landing in Bengaluru on state government invite, to the BJP's exultation (photo: @NitashaKaul/X)

NH Digital

A political slugfest has erupted between the ruling Congress and the BJP in Karnataka over UK professor Dr Nitasha Kaul being denied entry into India to attend a state government-organised conference on the Constitution.

Karnataka ministers alleged on Monday, 26 February, that the incident shows how individual rights as well the rights of the state governments are being trampled upon, while the BJP's state unit exulted on her denial of entry in an X post, calling her 'a known terrorist sympathiser and one who constantly spews venom and disseminates anti-India propaganda'.

Kaul, who is a professor at the University of Westminster and also an Overseas Citizen of India, has alleged that she was denied entry into India to attend—on the invitation of the government of Karnataka—the two-day 'Constitution and National Unity Convention-2024' on 24 and 25 February.

'Denied entry to India for speaking on democratic & constitutional values. I was invited to a conference as esteemed delegate by Govt of Karnataka (Congress-ruled state) but Centre refused me entry. All my documents were valid & current (UK passport & OCI),' she said on X on Sunday, 25 February. She also shared pictures of the invitation extended to her by the Karnataka government and other conference-related communications.

Karnataka social welfare minister H.C. Mahadevappa said on Monday, 26 February, that the denial "is a fresh demonstration of how the rights of state governments are being repeatedly trampled".

"It is a stark reminder of the multiple challenges to the constitutional idea of India. All patriotic Indians must reflect on these threats and unite to reclaim our Constitution,” he added.

It is the right of the Karnataka government to both organise a convention on the Constitution and to host experts who can meaningfully contribute to how the state’s development and national interest can be furthered, the minister said, adding: "Our rights (and hence the federal principles enshrined in our Constitution) were once again undermined by the Government of India.”

“[National security concerns] cannot be selectively weaponised to circumscribe the rights of Indians (including diaspora Indians, who are equal partners in the nation’s development). If we claim to be the Mother of Democracy, we need to also steadfastly adhere to all those values underpinning our democracy,” Mahadevappa said.

BJP state president B.Y. Vijayendra, meanwhile, condemned the Karnataka government for inviting her.

'Highly Disgusting of the @siddaramaiah govt to whitewash the crimes of ‘TUKDE TUKDE GANG’ by inviting its sympathizer Nitasha Kaul for a talk on ‘Constitution & Unity of India’,' Vijayendra said on a social media post on X.

'A known terrorist sympathizer & one who constantly spews venom & disseminates anti-India propaganda in connivance with the enemies of the Indian state is accorded a RED carpet welcome by the @INCIndia ruled Karnataka govt is Highly Condemnable & an Unpardonable crime,' the Shikaripura MLA continued.

(Kaul seemingly responded to his post without any actual mention of it when she herself posted on X about being what 'authoritarians fear—a thinking woman')

Meanwhile, Viyendra's rant continued, adding that he found it equally disgusting that all the top leaders of the Congress party attended the conference.

Minister for large and medium industries in Karnataka M.B. Patil said the incident showed "what type of democracy is there in India, how does the BJP respects the Constitution and the status of the freedom of speech and individual freedom".

“They (BJP) try to suppress them (liberties). This is not a good thing for our country because in our country, Babasaheb Ambedkar has given (us) a world-class Constitution where everyone’s views are respected. There is a freedom to talk,” Patil said.

Shivajinagar Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad, on the other hand, wondered whether there was now a dictatorial system in the country as, he alleged, the individual’s freedom of expression was curbed.

“A state government in a federal system invites an academic who is of Indian origin but she was told by the central government that she cannot enter the country just because she doesn’t subscribe to your ideology. Is this dictatorship in the country today? Is there no freedom of expression or no freedom to participate in a debate on the Constitution?” he asked.

With PTI inputs

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