Congress, BJP in war of words after UK professor denied entry to India

Professor Nitasha Kaul was deported back to the UK from Bengaluru airport

Professor Nitasha Kaul [Image source: X] Professor Nitasha Kaul [Image source: X]

The Congress and the BJP traded barbs on Monday after a UK-based Indian-origin professor was denied entry at the Bengaluru airport, where she had landed to attend a conference organised by the Karnataka government on February 24 and 25.

The Congress termed it an assault on freedom of expression as well as federal principles, while the BJP labelled the professor as 'anti-India' and said she was unwelcome.

Government sources told NDTV that Professor Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit faculty at the University of Westminster, was deported because of her "anti-India, pro-separatist sentiments”.

Kaul, an author, had in a post on X dismissed the allegations against her. "I am what authoritarians fear—a thinking woman," she wrote on the micro-blogging site.

"Re: all the lies, I am not married to a Pakistani, not a Muslim convert, not a pawn of China, not a puppet of (the) West, not a commie (Communist), not a jihadi, not a Pak sympathiser, not a terrorist supporter, not anti-India, and not part of a gang,” Kaul said in her post.

Karnataka minister H.C. Mahadevappa said that the incident was a fresh demonstration of how the rights of state governments are being repeatedly trampled by the Centre.

The government-sponsored conference was titled 'Constitution and National Unity Convention-2024'.

"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," Mahadevappa said.

In a separate post on X, the minister said: "As we all know, the BJP is a party always against the spirit of the Constitution (and) because of their ignorance about our constitutional values, such things are taking place repeatedly. We highly condemn such act of dictatorship towards the values of the Indian Constitution.”

Minister for Large and Medium Industries M.B. Patil remarked that the deportation of the professor showed "what type of democracy is there in India, how the BJP respects the Constitution and the status of the freedom of speech and individual freedom".

Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sbaha MP Digvijay Singh demanded that the prime minister and the home minister clarify why the professor was deported back to the UK.

"Sorry @NitashaKaul the "Mother of Democracy" didn't allow you, an eminent Kashmiri Pandit Professor to attend a Constitution and National Unity Convention '24 organised by Government of Karnataka. We at the Bangalore conference waited to hear you speak. Would Hon @PMOIndia or @AmitShah please let us know why she was detained and deported back to UK," Singh said in a post on X.

The BJP, however, defended Kaul’s deportation while accusing her of being a “Pakistan sympathiser”.

“Congress party has disgraced the Indian Constitution by inviting a Pakistani sympathiser who wants India's break up. Don't you have any shame left CM Siddaramaiah? Are you trying to challenge the constitution and threaten the unity and integrity of India?,” the BJP Karnataka unit asked in a post on X.

Several leaders of the saffron party from the state also attacked the Karnataka government over the invitation sent to Kaul.

"Highly Disgusting of the Siddaramaiah govt to whitewash the crimes of 'TUKDE TUKDE GANG' by inviting its sympathiser Nitasha Kaul for a talk on 'Constitution and Unity of India’,” state BJP president B.Y. Vijayendra said.


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