Recently, many Indians have taken to social media to narrate instances of racism they have been subjected to in foreign countries. In a recent incident, Khushbu Kaushal, a woman who was traveling alone to Georgia, recounted the harrowing ordeal she went through when she landed at the airport in Tbilisi.
In a Facebook post addressed to Archil Dzuliashvili, the Georgian ambassador to India, Khushbu alleges that she was harassed and mistreated by the Tbilisi airport personnel and was not even given food and water for seven out of the nine hours she was made to wait there. Finally, she says, she was deported back to India.
Khushbu says she boarded her flight on June 29 and was well prepared for the trip with the necessary documentation. She landed in Georgia after which, she was asked to move to an unmarked counter at immigration, where she was made to wait for half an hour. Until this point, she writes, things were normal and she hoped to get out and explore a bit before retiring to her hotel for the night.
However, Khushbu wasn't to explore the city that day or for the coming days. What followed was a two-hour long wait on what she describes as "cold and uncomfortable immigration chairsâ€ť. And when she went to enquire about her status, she was in for another shock â€“ she was told that she was being sent back to India. She alleges that she wasnâ€™t given a reason why, but was merely shouted down.
"This was the beginning of the most humiliating night of my life. Every time, after being told I was being sent back, when I tried approaching one of your immigration officers to get any answer, I was shouted at, told rudely to sit in a corner and that I will not be given any reason of inadmissibility to your country," Khushbu writes.
"I didn't know what was my fault, where did I go wrong, how long will I be held up in the immigration and when I will be sent home. And worse of all, I was alone and realised I was fed nonsense information about your country having friendly citizens and it being considered top rated for solo woman travellers," she adds.
She alleges that this went on for six hours, during which she wasn't offered food or water even once, despite â€śliterally beggingâ€ť for the same.
"Finally, at 12am, seven hours after arrival to your country, I was allowed to buy food and water and asked to sit in a room so that other passengers shouldn't get a look at how people are really treated by your immigration," Khushbu says.
Two and a half hours after that, Khushbu alleges that she was shouted at by another immigration officer to board the flight that would take her back. He also told her that her passport would be given to her at the Mumbai airport.
When she landed back in India, Khushbu says she attempted to find out why she was treated so badly and sent back. "The reason given to me by Indian immigration was that I had provided false information about myself and the reason for travel," she says. Later, when her friends enquired at the MEA, Khushbu says they found another issue: "It was that my passport was damaged and potentially duplicated."
She then 'challenges' Dzuliashvili, who she addresses the post to, to inspect her passport and see if there was a problem.
"Further investigation brought out a darker problem. I was informed by Sharjah transit officers and Indian immigration officers that your immigration officers have been sending almost 90% of Indian travellers with e-visa back every day, at random. Be it families, couples or solo travellers like me," Khushbu says.
The reason, Khushbu says in the post, is the sudden influx of Indians from the Georgian government's decision to invite Indian farmers to cultivate land in the country. "This [â€¦] has increased discontent and hatred towards Indians in general which I guess has resulted in your immigration officers being racists and playing God with regular Indians travel plans," she alleges.
Calling her experience in Georgia a "colossal disappointment" and her excitement at exploring the country, "misplaced", Khushbu requests Dzuliashvili to sensitise their citizens against racism.
"And the least you can do for other people being deported the way I was, is to treat them like humans. Give them a reason, give them food and water and give them a place to rest. No one deserves the sub-par treatment that was meted out to me. We are living in the time where people and countries need to work together and respect each other. This disregard for fellow humans will only result in discontentment and anger. This world deserves less of both," she says.
You can read Khushbu's full post here.
Khushbu wrote another Facebook post on Tuesday, thanking the Indians and Georgians who supported her. In a comment on the post, she mentioned that Dzuliashvili had gotten in touch with her on Monday and heard her story. "He has ensured to get me a positive response and I am hoping for a timeline to be put in place for the same," she wrote. Indian authorities however, had been silent on the issue, Khushbu said in another comment.