Kochi: Janne-Mette Johansson, a 72-year-old Norwegian citizen, was put through ‘CAA fire’ for having taken part in an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act rally here.
Though she had been to Kerala and other parts of India five times earlier, this visit was nightmarish for her.
After she landed here in the wee hours on Thursday, she went through immigration and other formalities at the airport and was cleared. But just hours after she checked into a hotel in Fort Kochi, a tourist centre, Immigration officials came knocking and asked her to leave behind her half-finished breakfast and immediately appear at Kochi international airport, 40km away.
When she asked for the reason, the officials said it was for ‘questioning’ as intelligence reports came in that she had participated in an anti-CAA protest rally in Kochi on December 23.
Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) officials put Johansson through a harrowing time at Kochi airport where she was made to wait for hours answering never-ending questions which she described as a “bad and belittling interrogation” session and “very depressing”.
After hours, she was eventually let off with a warning and told that she should remain in Kochi pending a 'decision' whether she could stay on in India or not. Her visa expires in March.
Immigration officials said visa regulations 'generally prohibit' a tourist from taking part in such protests.
Janne told Kochi edition of TOI that she was asked questions about her visits to Delhi and Lucknow. "I was asked to give out details of my friends and extended Indian family in Delhi and Lucknow but I refused to do so right away. I was asked to write a statement about my participation," she said.
A senior FRRO official was quoted in the media as saying: “She is here on a tourist visa. There is a possibility of foreign nationals posing for pictures alongside such protests. Unlike the German national student who was deported for his participation in the protests, this woman doesn’t seem to be actively involved in the campaign against CAA. We are in the initial process and it is too early for us to comment any further. Moreover, considering her age, we cannot initiate any action against her just like that. Anyway, we will be keeping track of her.”
The 72-year-old said she is yet to recover from the 'shock'. She said she is clueless on how participating in a peaceful protest would be considered breaking the law in India.