A German physics student told DW he was asked to leave India by immigration authorities on Monday due to his engagement with student protests in Chennai.
“After the Nazi era, many people claimed not to have known anything about genocides or atrocities or stated that they were only passive,” said Jakob Lindenthal. “Therefore I see it as a duty to learn from these lessons and not only watch when things happen that one believes to be the stepping stones to a possibly very dangerous development.”
Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of students across India have protested against a proposed law that would provide citizenship opportunities for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Activists have called the bill discriminatory, saying it forms part of a government campaign aimed at disenfranchising Indian Muslims. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejected such claims.
‘We have been there’
In photos circulated by Indian media, Lindenthal held a placard equating the Indian government’s practices with those of Nazi Germany. It read: “1933 to 1945 — we have been there.”
“I felt the gratefulness of many people in the protest for the solidarity from a foreigner, so I wanted to give them at least my moral support again after having attended the protest march on the campus of IIT Madras,” Lindenthal told DW.
When asked what he would do next, he said he would like “to return safely and without disturbance and celebrate Christmas with my family,” then “consider possible options to return to India to continue my studies.” He is still waiting to leave India for Germany.
“As a backup plan, which I deem the most likely to happen, I will return to TU Dresden and try to catch up with the courses of the winter semester, take the experience as a lesson and implement my understanding of it in my political activities for the Green Party of Germany.”
ChintaBAR, a left-leaning student body at the IIT Madras in Chennai, voiced solidarity with Lindenthal in a post of Twitter.
“ChintaBAR extend solidarity and gratitude to Jakob Lindenthal, for being part of struggles to protect the rights of people in this country and his concern for humanity,” it said.
The German Foreign Office told DW that the German Consulate General in Chennai was “in contact with the person concerned before his departure.”