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Elderly Norway tourist made to ‘leave at once’

Official waited till flight was booked, says 71-year-old who attended protest
Janne-Mette Johansson was asked to leave the country immediately for “violating visa norms that do not allow tourists to protest”
Janne-Mette Johansson was asked to leave the country immediately for “violating visa norms that do not allow tourists to protest”
Sourced by The Telegraph

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 27.12.19, 10:40 PM

An elderly Norwegian tourist has been ordered to cut short her vacation and leave the country from Kochi in Kerala for participating in a protest against the amended citizenship act, with immigration officials purportedly staying put in her hotel room on Friday morning till she got a flight ticket booked.

Janne-Mette Johansson, 71, who has been posting on social media her opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC while criss-crossing India, was summoned for questioning by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office in Kochi on Thursday after she uploaded on Facebook pictures of herself at a protest.


In a brief interaction with waiting reporters outside her hotel on Friday, Johansson, who had been a nurse, said she had been asked to leave at the earliest.

“The officials who said they were from the immigration department asked me to leave at the earliest or face legal action,” she told the reporters before leaving for the airport.

Johansson is the second foreign national to be expelled for participating in the protests. Earlier this week, German national Jakob Lindenthal, an exchange student at IIT-Madras, was sent back for joining a protest in Chennai. Lindenthal went to high school in Nuremberg, the German town famous for the post World War II trials of Nazi officials responsible for the Holocaust.

In Kochi, local media reported that immigration officials asked Johansson, who was to be in India till March and had travelled to many places including Calcutta and Murshidabad in Bengal, to leave the country immediately for “violating visa norms that do not allow tourists to protest”.

Johansson had been putting up at a homestay in Fort Kochi, a favourite location for tourists from Europe. She took part in a long march in Kochi on December 23 against the CAA-NRC and posted pictures on Facebook.

Johansson, who had been to India several times before, posted on Friday, which she later deleted, that she had been told to leave “at once”.

“A couple of hours back the Bureau of Immigration showed up at my hotel again. I was told to leave the country at once, or legal actions would be taken. I asked for an explanation and also something in writing. I was told I would not get anything in writing. The officer from the Bureau is not leaving me before he can see that I have a flight ticket. Now pretty soon on my way to the airport. A friend fixing a flight ticket to Dubai and from here catching a flight back home to Sweden,” she wrote.

Since the Cochin international airport runway is closed from 10am to 6pm for maintenance, the first available flight to Dubai is at 7.35pm, an airport source said.

Johansson had posted another message early on Friday reassuring her friends that she was fine, but would not be posting anymore during her travel in India.

“I will not be posting more on FB during my travelling in beautiful India. I thank you all for having followed me on my journey. But now a time to be private. I also want you all to know that I am alright. Still in Cochin, but when I know the time is right for me, I will be on my way to Delhi. Just informing you so you don’t worry. I thank you all, goodbye my friends!”

In the post that landed her in trouble, Johansson had described the long march and how it was “very organised” and she got “water with salt and sugar” at one place and “orange juice” at another.

“No riots, just people determined… lifting up their voices, saying what has to be said,” she wrote, uploading pictures from the march that showed her holding up a placard and also adding the hashtags “Boycott NRC” and “Reject CAA”.

Earlier this month, she had shared on Facebook articles on author Arundhati Roy protesting against the CAA-NRC, commented against fascism and observed that “every Muslim, privileged or poor, is worried”.

Her Facebook posts show she had arrived Mumbai in early October. Among the places she travelled to before heading to Kochi were Delhi, Udaipur, Lucknow, Kasauli and the Tibetan hamlet of McLeodganj, besides Calcutta.

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