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Bangladeshi student asked to leave India over Facebook post

  • Published at 03:18 pm February 27th, 2020
India's new citizenship law, during a demonstration in New Delhi
People and students hold placards as they shout slogans to protest against India's new citizenship law, during a demonstration in New Delhi on January 20, 2020 AFP

She had been bullied on social media after she had posted the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest pictures

The Indian government has asked a Bangladeshi student studying at Visva-Bharati, a public university located in Santiniketan, West Bengal, to leave India for participating in “anti-government activities,” India’s English language news portal The Telegraph reported. 

Afsara Anika Meem, a first-year undergraduate student at the university’s arts faculty, facing deportation after she posted a few photographs on Facebook of protests against India’s controversial citizenship law.

She had been bullied on social media after she had posted the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest pictures.

Despite several attempts, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner Kolkata Toufique Hasan could not be reached over the phone.

Meem, hailing from Kushtia, went to India in late 2018 to pursue her Bachelor of Design degree at the department of fine arts.

Memorandum seeking action against Afsara Anika Meem | CollectedIn December, students and a group of university teachers had taken out several rallies on the campus against the CAA.

The leave-India letter dated February 14 was issued to Afsara by the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office of the ministry of home affairs.

“Whereas Afsara Anika Meem, holder of Bangladesh passport …Is present in India on the strength of S-1 (student) visa bearing…studying a course on Bachelor of Design at Visva-Bharati University, West Bengal. And whereas she is found to have engaged in anti-government activities. And such activity being a breach of her visa, has thus committed visa violation,” the notice reads.

There are two orders mentioned in the letter, which is in the possession of The Telegraph, asks her to leave the country within 15 days of the receipt of the notice.

“If foreign students cannot protest or comment on a movement by their friends, my questions, whether we are living in a democratic country?” asked a student of Visva-Bharati.

The 20-year-old Afsara received the “leave-India” notice on Wednesday and sounded distraught about the uncertainty she faces over her education.

“I am still unable to understand what wrong I have committed to face such a punishment. I posted a few photographs out of curiosity as many of my friends had participated in the protest rally. But when I found that a particular group of people was trolling me on social media, I immediately deactivated my Facebook account. I am really innocent,” said Afsara.

“When I received the letter from the department today, a dark sense of grave loss gripped me. I came India to study at Visva-Bharati as I dream to be an artist. I don’t know what will happen to me now,” the student added.

Notice regarding action against Afsara Anika Meem | CollectedOne of her friends said she did not participate in any rally against the CAA but had merely posted a few photographs on social media. Her post had attracted the attention of several right-wing people, who trolled her and demanded she be sent back.

“At least 250 social media posts labelled her as an anti-national,” the friend said.

Sources in Bangladesh deputy high commission in Calcutta said they were not aware of the leave-India notice to Afsara. 

“But we knew that she was under scanner and had informed our superiors in Dhaka. In such cases, there is very little we can do,” a source from the high commission told The Telegraph.

A Visva-Bharati teacher said, “The girl was not interviewed or given any chance. The date in the letter is February 14 that means the letter was ready when the office had asked the girl to meet.”

Meem, along with a few of her friends, are due to meet officials of the Foreigners Regional Registration office in Calcutta on Thursday to request them to review their decision.

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