Dear Sushma Swaraj
Your constantly going out of your way to help Indians in troubled situations across the world has endeared you to numerous people, Indians and foreigners alike. You’re also one of the most accessible foreign ministers India has ever had, replying to our citizens’ pleas for help on Twitter.
However, there are things happening under your nose that you may want to be aware of. The tone of the official language towards Indian visitors to the UK is just downright humiliating. It kind of implies that everything that is wrong with the UK is the fault of Indians.
Sample this email, sent by the UK Home Office to Amlan Dasgupta, an English professor at highly-ranked Jadavpur University
“YOUR VISA / LEAVE TO REMAIN IN THE UK EXPIRED ON 25 NOVEMBER 2016.”
“Our records show that you no longer have the right to remain in the UK. We believe you have not left the UK. You must now leave the country…. You could face penalties. For example:
• you can be banned from returning to the UK for up to 10 years, which may make it difficult for you to do business here or visit family
• you can be imprisoned for up to 6 months
• you can be fined up to £5,000 (unlimited fine in England & Wales)….
We will continue to monitor your case. If you do not leave the UK or take action to be in the UK legally, we will begin enforcement action against you.
Dasgupta received this email on Jan 3, nearly two weeks after returning to India on Nov 20. He wasn’t in Britain at all when he received the rude missive.
Kolkata’s The Telegraph quoted Dasgupta as saying,”I received a threatening and uncivil message for no apparent reason, and I would at least expect a message saying that it was a mistake on their part.”
Kolkata-based journalist Semanti Ghosh received a similar blunt message as Dasgupta. The UK immigration message got to her inbox in October, nearly five months after she was at London’s Heathrow Airport for just a few hours in May 2016. The scribe reportedly wasn’t in Britain too at the time of receiving the immigration message.
Why are they treating Indian travellers with such contempt?
Mind you, they weren’t immigrants, neither they had overstayed their visa. They were just travellers with valid papers. Both these persons hailed from Kolkata, and weren’t even reportedly in the UK when they got the immigration email.
They aren’t even kind enough to apologise for their offensive emails. Ghosh reportedly tried getting in touch with the UK Home Office and the British High Commission in Delhi through email multiple times, but has just got computer-generated emails till now.
It is highly likely that, if you read this and take it up at all with your UK counterparts, they will deny claims of discrimination against Indians.
But their choice of words in the official communication say what they feel about Indian visitors, much less immigrants.
The UK government’s attitude toward all those who aren’t White, or British White, is being reflected in the official language.
You may already know that
The popular vote by the British public to leave the United Kingdom was fuelled by xenophobic rhetoric against immigrants. Stories of racially-motivated attacks by White nutjobs on members of minority communities have been constantly trickling in since the whole debate around leaving the European Union started to gain momentum in the lead up to the historic Brexit vote.