Norwegian told to leave India for rallying against citizenship law

A Norwegian woman touring India was told to leave the country after she violated visa rules by joining a protest march against a new citizenship law in Kochi on Dec 23.

Reports said Janne-Mette Johansson, above, (Photo credit: Facebook/Janne-Mette Johansson) was set to return to Norway via Dubai and Sweden.

Before her departure, 71-year-old Johansson wrote in a Facebook post that she joined the ‘Peoples long march’ against the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) only after police assured her she can go ahead.

Anoop Krishnan, an officer in the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), told PTI that Johansson’s act was a clear violation of India’s visa rules and she was told to leave the country immediately.

Johansson wrote that some immigration officials visited her on Thursday and left only after ensuring that she bought a flight ticket to Dubai.

On Friday, they came again and asked her to leave the country or face legal action.
Earlier this week, a German student had to leave the country for taking part in a similar protest at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai.

Joining the protest, Jakob Lindenthal compared the new citizenship law to anti-Jewish Nazi legislation by holding a placard that read, ‘1933-1945: We have been there.’

Lindenthal told German international broadcaster DW that he believed it was his duty to protest against a law that may be a stepping stone to a dangerous development.

Indian Muslims who took part in large numbers in these protests fear that the new citizenship law is discriminatory and it may ultimately lead to the expulsion of Muslims who fled or infiltrated into the country from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

While debating the citizenship amendment bill in Parliament and even later, Home Minister Amit Shah clarified that CAA has nothing to do with Indian Muslims.

Shah said it is a law with the limited objective of ensuring citizenship to minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis who fled religious persecution from India’s Islamic neighbourhood over the years.

The new law excludes Muslim immigrants from the three countries since they were enjoying all rights and privileges as part of the majority Muslim community there.

Even if a large section of these Muslim immigrants happen to be ethnic groups such as Shias, Ahmadis or Hazaras who faced problems in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, India cannot help them by bringing them within the ambit of the citizenship law.

Unfortunately, many people protesting against the citizenship law have not read it and are being misled by Congress and other opposition parties with an eye on minority votes in the upcoming elections.