New Delhi: The Government of India has revoked the visa of Jakob Lindenthal, a German exchange student at IIT Madras who was in December told to leave the country for participating in anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Lindenthal was informed by the Indian Embassy in Germany on February 8 that his visa has been cancelled. He told the newspaper that he was not given “any reason for the decision”.
A student of Technical University-Dresden (TUD), Lindenthal had joined IIT Madras as an exchange student in July 2019. He was studying in the physics department and was scheduled to complete his course in May this year.
In Germany, the Head of Press Office and Public Relations at TUD, Kim Magister, confirmed to the newspaper that the student’s visa has now indeed been cancelled. “Mr. Lindenthal’s visa has indeed now been officially cancelled, meaning that he is no longer able to travel to India to continue his student exchange. However, he was able to successfully complete one semester at the IIT Madras. For this period, he will receive a Transcript of Records from our partner university,” he told the newspaper through an email.
Magister added that the student’s expulsion has not affected the exchange programme. He, however, indicated that measures have been put in place to prevent similar episodes by stating that the TUD has now introduced workshops to “optimally prepare” students for such programmes.
Stating that Lindenthal would also present his experiences at these workshops, the official said: “The main objective is to raise awareness in our students regarding the understanding and the respect for regional particularities all over the world.”
Lindenthal ran into trouble with the authorities following his participation in an anti-CAA protest. During the protest on the campus, he was seen holding a placard that said, “1933-1945. We have been there”. This was in reference to the Nazi regime in Germany. He was also seen with another placard that read, “No Democracy without dissent”.
A number of universities across the country had witnessed a spontaneous outrage among the student community against the law which allowed Indian citizenship to only non-Muslims who faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Visa guidelines, however, bar participation of foreign students in such protests.
The Wire had in December reported how Lindenthal was asked to leave India by the Bureau of Immigration officials. He was then summoned to the BOI office in Chennai and questioned on several issues, ranging from his views on Indian politics to the anti-CAA protests.
He was then told that he would have to leave the country and reapply for a visa if he wanted to return. Though the student was offered legal support by the German Consulate, he decided to leave as he felt unsafe. At that time, Lindenthal had still to complete a semester of his exchange programme.
Meanwhile, responding to the latest development, IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi told the newspaper that “granting of visa is done by Immigration and the educational institute is not involved, except for giving the admission offer or invitation. If visa is granted the student or visitor comes, else they do not. This is the process followed everywhere.”
Earlier this week, a student from Bangladesh studying in the Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal also received a notice to leave the country, apparently after she posted photos of an anti-CAA protest on Facebook.