India ejects second European for joining citizenship law protests

Norwegian tourist asked to leave India, days after a German student who also took part in ongoing protests was ejected.

    Janne-Mette Johansson reacts to a camera as she leaves a cafe in Kerala state's Kochi city [Sivaram V/Reuters]
    Janne-Mette Johansson reacts to a camera as she leaves a cafe in Kerala state's Kochi city [Sivaram V/Reuters]

    A Norwegian tourist has said authorities have ordered her to leave India after taking part in protests against a new citizenship law, becoming the second European to be ejected over the demonstrations.

    Janne-Mette Johansson, 71, on Friday said police gave her "verbal assurances" that she could take part in peaceful demonstrations against the law that critics say discriminates against India's 200 million Muslims.

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    "Yesterday [Thursday], Indian immigration officials came to my hotel for questioning and I was mentally tortured. Today, they again showed up at my hotel asking me to leave the country or they will take a legal action and deport me," she said.

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    The woman, who had posted photos from the demonstration in the southern state of Kerala on Facebook, added that she would leave India for Dubai on Friday evening and then fly to Sweden.

    European visitors to India require visas and the Press Trust of India news agency quoted an official from the Foreigners Regional Registration Office as saying that Johansson "violated visa norms".

    "The Norwegian lady has participated in a protest in violation of her visa condition," said Anoop Krishna, the Foreigners' Regional Registration Officer at Kochi airport.

    "She has been asked to leave the country as early as possible. The tourist visa on which she visited the country does not allow participation in any protests."

    There was no immediate response to a request for comment from India's Ministry of Home Affairs and the Norwegian embassy in New Delhi.

    'India's image taking a hit'

    Johansson posted on her Facebook page about a December 23 protest in Kochi.

    "No riots, just people determined ... lifting up their voices, saying what has to be said," she wrote alongside pictures of the march, including one of her brandishing a sign.

    Earlier this week, a German physics student in the southern Indian city of Chennai was also asked to leave after taking part in a protest and comparing the law with anti-Jewish Nazi legislation.

    Photos on social media purportedly of the student, named as Jakob Lindenthal, showed him carrying a placard saying "1933-1945 We have been there".

    "After the Nazi era, many people claimed not to have known anything about genocides or atrocities or stated that they were only passive," Lindenthal told German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

    "Therefore I see it as a duty to learn from these lessons and not only watch when things happen that one believes to be the stepping stones to a possibly very dangerous development."

    Opposition politicians decried the two expulsions.

    "India's image as a tolerant democracy is taking a hit internationally due to the knee jerk reactions of PM #Modi & @AmitShah!" tweeted Shama Mohamed, a Congress party spokeswoman, in reference to the prime minister and home minister.

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    Meanwhile, nationwide protests, which have raged for more than two weeks and left at least 27 people dead, continued on Friday with mobile internet disconnected in places and riot police deployed.

    The government says that the law easing citizenship rules for religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan excludes Muslims because they face no persecution in those countries.

    But coupled with a mooted citizens register, it has stoked fears including in Washington and the United Nations rights office over the marginalisation of Muslims who make up 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion population.

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    SOURCE: News agencies