Anthropologist Filipo Osella Deported After Arrival at Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram: Filippo Osella, an internationally-known anthropologist and sociologist from the University of Sussex in the UK, was deported back to his country from Thiruvananthapuram International airport in Kerala on Thursday.

Osella, who had written about Islam in South Asia and Social Mobility Kerala society, was to attend a conference at Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. He is a frequent traveller to Pakistan.

Confirming the report about his deportation to The Indian Express, Osella, who was to board a flight back to the UK, said he was denied entry into the country without any explanation from Indian authorities.

When contacted, an immigration officer at the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) in Thiruvananthapuram airport said the reason for his deportation cannot be revealed. “He was denied entry as per the orders from higher officials. No reason can be revealed,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Dubai, Osella, 65, said he arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram airport early morning on Thursday on an Emirates flight. As he was about to come out of the aircraft, he was told to contact flight assistants, who led him to a person who was waiting for him outside. “I was taken to the immigration desks and processed as it is normally done. But after they scanned my passport, took my photo and fingerprints, they told me that I was not allowed to enter India and that I would be deported immediately,” said Osella, adding that “indeed, the decision had already been taken prior to my arrival, as an Emirates employee was already there to arrange my deportation via Dubai flight.”

When asked about the reasons he was given for deportation, he said: “The immigration personnel and the immigration supervisor were extremely unfriendly and impolite. They refused to explain why I was not allowed in, and deported. Only said that it was “a government of India decision/order.”

Osella’s long association with India, especially Kerala, began in the late 1980s. He is known as a scholar who had done several studies about India, Kerala, and Muslims of Malabar.

Osella was the face of the Thiruvananthapuram conference, which was to be held at Mascot Hotel from Friday to Sunday, on “emerging themes connected to the livelihood and lifeworld of Kerala coastal communities.”

The conference is on Kerala’s coastal communities, jointly organised by Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Centre for Development Studies (CDS Thiruvananthapuram), Inter-University Center for Alternative Economics, University of Kerala, and the University of Sussex. Effects of climatic changes on the south-west coast of India and the transformations they engender on the fishing industry, collective and individual engagements with novel forms of communication and the (re)production of modalities of marginalisation and exclusion were the specific focuses in the conference, based on extensive studies by subject experts in Kerala’s fishing villages.

When asked about any likely reason for his deportation, Osella said there were no technical reasons as he has “a one-year research visa expiring in mid-April.”

“And my return flight was well before the expiry date. Yes, I have a couple of old visas to Pakistan in my passport because I am a south Asian specialist. These visas have never stopped me from being granted entry in Kerala or India,” he said.

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