Veteran anthropologist and sociologist Filippo Osella, who was deported as soon as he landed here on Thursday, is utterly disillusioned and deeply saddened by the deportation order, said the distinguished professor.
A Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Sussex, the 65-year-old Osella is an expert on Kerala and had arrived here to take part in a seminar scheduled for Friday.
In response to queries raised to him by IANS, he wrote that upon his arrival at Thiruvananthapuram airport from London via Dubai, he was taken out of the plane by an immigration official who asked him to follow him to the immigration desk.
“I thought that this had to do with Covid prevention, as it happened when I went to Kerala in September 2021, all passengers whose flight had originated in UK had to follow PCR testing procedures separately from others. So, this time I was taken to the immigration booth, my passport and visa were checked, photo and fingers print taken, all routine immigration stuff,”.
But once these procedures had been completed, an immigration supervisor informed him that he would not be granted entry and will be deported back to UK immediately. “Indeed, this decision was premeditated and had been taken before my arrival, because an Emirates employee was already present to march me back to the same plane on which I arrived.”
“They did not even allow me to get in touch with friends in Kerala or India who could have sought explanations or vouched for my academic status.”
He said he did not know why he was denied entry and deported.
“I am also sure that the decision taken this morning by the Indian immigration authorities is not due to the possible controversial or sensitive nature of the research I am currently undertaking in south Kerala, the reason for my current visit. Not only has this research been approved by the government of India, but it involves collaborations with (natural and social) scientists from a number of different Indian universities and government agencies,” Osella stated.
It is a multi-disciplinary research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) with the objective of finding effective ways to make south Indian small scale artisanal fishers’ livelihoods more secure and sustainable by improving safety at sea.
His deportation, he said, might have to do with something else, such as a couple of old Pakistan visas which are normally treated with some surprise every time he showed my passport to immigration officials, but never came in the way of being allowed to cross the Indian border.
“Every time I applied for a research visa to India, I declared my visits to Pakistan or elsewhere in South Asia (and I have always been granted appropriate visas for India, regardless of the Pakistan visa stamped on my passport!).”
In 30 years of research in the state, Osella claimed to have interacted with and got to know countless politicians, bureaucrats and social activists who always treated him with great respect and generosity, appreciated his efforts to contribute to the understanding of the complexities of everyday life in the state.
“I hope this is not my last (attempted) visit to Kerala. I also hope that incidents such as those I experienced today” and which are becoming increasingly common” will not come in the way of collaborations with Indian scientists and universities at a time when the latter are trying tirelessly to internationalise their research endeavours,” .