Polish student asked to leave India over anti-CAA protest

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Published on Feb 29, 2020 11:03 PM IST
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Kolkata: A Polish student at Jadavpur University (JU) in Kolkata has been asked to leave India in a notice sent to him by the Union home ministry. Some students and teachers at JU said Kamil Siedcynski may have been expelled due to his presence at a rally organised in the city by intellectuals, artists and students against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December.

Siedcynski avoided the media and didn’t share the contents of the notice. A student of comparative literature, he is yet to complete the final semester of his Master’s degree. Having studied Bengali literature at Visva Bharati, a central university, Siedcynski can speak the language fluently and has translated Polish works into Bengali.

JU teachers who did not wish to be named said Siedcynski attended the rally organised at Ramlila Maidan with his friends on December 19.

He was served a notice by the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Kolkata about a week ago, said Partha Pratim Roy, general secretary of the JU TeachersA association. “Kamil has appealed to the FRRO to reconsider its decision, saying he was a merely an onlooker,” Roy added.

JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das was away in Delhi. “Till Friday evening, when I left my office, I had not received any official information about this from the student or the FFRO.”

Siedcynski is the second foreign student in West Bengal to be asked to leave India by the FRRO.

Afsara Anika Meem, a first-year Bangladeshi undergraduate student at the Visva Bharati fine arts department, had been served a similar notice for engaging in “anti-government” activities earlier this week. She had posted photos of an anti-CAA agitation on her social media page, which she later deactivated.

“Kamil was possibly curious to see the rally. Kamil has never been seen at any agitation on or off campus. Being a foreigner, he drew the attention of some local television channels that covered the rally. Since he speaks Bengali, a journalist even spoke to him and the short footage was aired,” said a JU professor who did not want to be identified.

Teachers said Siedcynski was first summoned by the FRRO, but he could not respond because he was visiting Visva Bharati. After returning to the city, he went to the FRRO, where the notice to leave the country was given to him.

Being a Saturday, the Polish consulate in Kolkata and the FRRO office were closed and no official could be contacted.

Lawyer and former Kolkata mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, “This is madness. How can a student from a foreign country be asked to leave just because he wanted to witness a rally. The student has the right to move court and if he wants I will defend him.”

Two other foreign nationals in the country were asked to leave the country on similar grounds in December. Jakob Lindenthal, a 24-year-old German exchange student pursuing a Master’s degree in physics at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, was ordered to leave after he took part in protests against the CAA in Chennai. Janne Mette-Johannson, a Norwegian woman, was asked to leave after she participated in an anti-CAA protest in Kerala. She had been in India on a tourist visa.

The CAA was passed in December to fast-track the grant of Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh before 2015.

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