A German student on an exchange programme to India has been asked to leave after participating in protests against the country’s controversial citizenship law, officials and news reports said on Tuesday.
“Jakob Lindenthal left last night after a conversation with immigration officials,” said Mahesh Panchagnula, dean of international studies at the Chennai-based Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
“This is after he featured in Chennai newspapers and social media holding up posters at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. I do not know what exactly was said in the conversation with the officials,” Panchagnula said.
Lindenthal, a student of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, was on a two-semester exchange programme at the IIT and had one semester remaining, Panchagnula said.
Lindenthal was quoted by local media as saying he did not know that the protests he participated in were illegal or that he had violated the conditions of having a student visa.
‘1933-1945: We have been there’
Pictures in newspapers and social media showed him holding up a poster that said: “1933-1945: We have been there” and “Democracy without Dissent”.
“The immigration officer asked me whether I participated in protests as part of discussion, and when I admitted to the fact, she asked me to leave the room. Within a few minutes, I was asked to leave the country,” Lindenthal was quoted as saying by the Deccan Herald newspaper.
Immigration officers in Chennai asked Lindenthal to leave because he violated his visa conditions, Deccan Herald reported, citing sources.
“The links he was drawing in his posters to Nazi Germany and what is happening here could have been the reason for asking him to go,” said a fellow student at IIT-Chennai, who did not want to be named.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters across India continue to demonstrate against the new law in the capital New Delhi and other places.
Sargam Sharma, who was at New Delhi’s iconic Jantar Mantar, the site of frequent protests, slammed the government’s decision to send Lindenthal back.
“The fact that an international student from Germany is making these associations with his own experiences of having lived in a country that faced fascism shows how inconsiderate this government is,” she told Al Jazeera.
Reporting from the capital, Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam said the people are putting “maximum pressure” on the government by continuing to take to the streets.
“We are in the second week of protests now… Police have actually imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than four people here,” she said. “But the protesters are defying it.”
Puranam said the government is “showing no signs of backing down” on the law.
“We have to remember that this government was re-elected [in May this year] with an overwhelming majority,” she said. “The law was passed by both houses of parliament.”
In January, India’s Supreme Court will hear nearly 60 petitions filed by opposition parties, Muslim groups and activists challenging the constitutional validity of the new law.
Bilal Kuchay contributed to this report from New Delhi