A British MP outraged that she was denied entry to India over a revoked visa has received a harsh backlash online, with some reminding the lawmaker – a critic of Delhi’s policies in Kashmir – that India is no longer a UK subject.
Debbie Abrahams, an MP who chairs the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir, was informed her visa had been rescinded after landing at an airport in New Delhi on Monday. Taking to Twitter after the incident, Abrahams demanded to know why she was barred entry, suggesting her vocal criticism of “human rights issues” in Kashmir motivated the move and insisting she was merely on a ‘private’ visit to see relatives.
Many on social media were not impressed by the display, however, with a number of Indian netizens sensing a whiff of “colonial hangover” in the lawmaker’s complaints.
“After 14th August 1947, entering into India ceased being a ‘right’ for the Brits,”wrote Yusuf Unjhawala, editor of the Indian Defence Forum.
One parliamentarian from the ruling BJP weighed in with a bit of travel advice for the MP, suggesting she ought to ensure her paperwork is valid prior to traveling to a foreign country.
While Abrahams maintains she had been granted a visa that was still valid when she left for Delhi, unnamed government sources cited by India Today said the credentials had been revoked, and that she was informed of this well in advance of her trip.
“The e-visa of the British MP was cancelled. She was informed of the revocation on Friday,” the sources said. “The status of her e-visa communicated to her clearly says ‘rejected.’”
Indian Embassy officials based in London also told the Times of India that all British MPs and diplomats must apply for a “proper visa” with the embassy, and that “to get an e-visa in her position was a violation of visa rules,” though it is not clear why she was granted one in the first place.
The controversy soon drew commentary from Pakistani President Arif Alvi, who accused rivals in New Delhi of attempting to “hide … atrocities” – presumably a reference to Kashmir, which was stripped of its autonomy status by India last summer, prompting complaints from Islamabad ever since. India has fiercely defended the move to integrate Kashmir into the rest of the country, however, arguing it was necessary in order to crack down on terrorism, ensure human rights and develop the region.
Both India and Pakistan maintain claims over Kashmir and the nuclear-armed neighbors fought two of their three wars over the territory.