New Delhi: Complaints of harassment at the hands of immigration authorities are not new in India but this time the victim of alleged harassment was no other than British actor Orlando Bloom, who had to travel twice between Delhi and London within 24 hours. Immigration Bureau officials ‘deliberately’ deported him to London after he landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport without a valid visa.
According to airport sources, Bureau of Immigration (BOI) officials could have allowed the actor to stay here for a particular period even though he did not have a valid visa. Moreover, airport sources confirmed that BOI officials delayed a London-bound flight to deport Bloom, a move which could have been avoided. The matter was resolved only after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj intervened and facilitated a visa to the actor so that he could travel back to India.
In a meeting held on May 21, 2015, BOI officials along with various airline companies decided not to delay flights and to send deportees in the next flight within 24 hours, if the airline takes a written responsibility of the passenger, sources said. “Foreigner Regional Registration Office, Delhi ruled that in normal circumstances the passengers refused entry should be deported by the same or the first available flight. However, in exceptional cases, on the undertaking given by the airline and approval of the AFRRO/shift, the passenger refused entry can be deported by the airline’s next flight within 24 hours. In such cases the airline shall issue an advance boarding pass for the passenger on the next flight, keep a track of the passenger and inform AFRRO/shift in writing that the passenger has finally left,” minutes of meeting issued by the Immigration Bureau says.
There was another British Airways flight which could have been used to deport Bloom, sources said.
“Orlando was invited for a government program. The arrogant behaviour of Immigration officials has dented India’s image globally as they deliberately deported him even when they had other options to allow him to stay here. A visa was issued after Sushma Swaraj’s reported intervention after which Bloom finally landed in Delhi on Sunday,” a senior airport official told Mail Today.
Moreover, airport officials present at the time of the incident said that BOI could have provided Bloom with a temporary landing permit (TLP) which allows a passenger to stay for 72 hours under special conditions. “Landing permit facility, upto a maximum of three days, can be given to a foreigner who enters India by air or sea without a valid visa under emergency circumstances provided the Immigration officer is satisfied regarding the bona fides of the foreigner,” BOI says.
Refuting the allegation, a top BOI official told Mail Today: “There is a written order that a passenger who has been denied entry has to be sent back on the same flight through turnaround flight. In this case as well, the order was followed by officials. Though, TLP was an option as Orlando is a famous personality but we have to check the circumstances and this option was not explored.”
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