Teenager Yashika Bageerathi is deported without her family and before having a chance to complete her A-levels, despite appeals for compassion from an influential parliamentary committee.
Yashika Bageerathi, who unsuccessfully claimed asylum saying she feared being attacked in her native country, was taken from Yarl’s Wood detention centre to Heathrow and her flight back to Mauritius was due to leave at 9pm. She was accompanied on it by two guards, her supporters said.
They said they were “outraged” at the decision, which comes only a day after MPs intervened to ask that Yashika to be allowed to stay long enough to complete her A-levels in June this year.
But, despite that, protests, and the tearful pleas of Yashika’s mother Sowbhagyawatee, immigration minister James Brokenshire was unmoved, insisting the 19-year-old be made to leave the UK immediately.
Keith Vaz wrote to the Home Secretary Theresa May today in a last ditch attempt to convince her to rethink the case.
He called the Home Office’s treatment of Yashika “needlessly cruel” and called on May to carry out a “simple and uncontroversial act of clemency” by allowing her to stay long enough to complete her exams in June. But it was to no avail.
We are obviously really distressed that the Home Office and the government think this is ok. Yashika’s teacher, Sarah Hamilton
Yashika’s teacher Sarah Hamilton told Channel 4 News: “We are outraged this has happened after Yashika’s mother and headteacher appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee.” She clamied that the Home Office bought up rows of seats on the flight. And she said that Yashika was accompanied by five security guards who were “instructing her not to scream and not to listen to us when she called us”.
She added: “Yashika is emotionally drained and unable to fight further”.
Ms Hamilton, deputy head of sixth form at the Oasis Academy Hadley in north London, added: “We are obviously really distressed that the Home Office and the government think this is ok. There was a huge number She said that activists were mobilising immediately to try to stop the deportation. Lawyers for Yashika asked the High Court to grant her an interim period to stay in the UK to complete the exams she has spent two years studying for, but were turned down.
The school’s headteacher Lynne Dawes said they were tried to lobby support to stop tonight’s deportation and get “the message as far as we can” that she should stay.
Dawes said she had spoken to the student less than an hour before and that Ms Bageerathi was “really upset and absolutely devastated”.
A spokesman for her school added that Yashika was “very distressed and worried”. He added: “She is on her way in the van but I really hope we can keep her here. We’re encouraging everyone to tweet Air Mauritius and to phone them to stop this.”
Appearing on Channel 4 News on Wednesday night, Yashika’s mother repeated her tearful plea to allow her daughter to stay to finish her exams and not to be deported without her family. But the Air Mauritius flight due to take her took off at 9:43pm without any hint of a third last-gasp reprieve.
Supporters of Yashika began their fight after she was detained two weeks ago. They set up a petition on campaigns website that has been signed by more than 175,000 people.
She was initially threatened with deportation without her mother and two young siblings because she was considered an adult. She was taken to the airport but British Awirways refused to take her on its flight and she was returned to Yarl’s Wood.
Immigration officials tried again, placing her on an Air Mauritius flight, but there were uncomfirmed reports that it too refused to carry her and Yashika was again given a reprieve.
That followed a campaign by supporters to convince the airline, which refused to comment, to refuse to allow her on its flight. They flooded phone lines and social media accounts with calls and messages, a tactic they vowed to repeat on this occassion.
On Tuesday, Julian Huppert MP told the immigration minister that Yashika had complied with immigration rules thus far and that there was little chance of that changing. With that in mind, he asked Brokenshire whether he was willing to change the date of departure until after her exams.
He said it seemed “perverse to spend a lot of money on treating someone badly”. Brokenshire, however, said that the case was not sufficiently “exceptional” to warrant ministerial intervention.
Nothing is gained by detaining a bright yougn woman repeatedly. Julian Huppert MP
Huppert said: “I and other MPs have called on the Home Secretary to use common sense in the case of Yashika. Nothing is gained by detaining a bright young woman repeatedly in Yarl’s Wood, especially with her exams coming up.
“I had the opportunity to raise my concerns with Yashika’s mother and headteacher at the Home Affairs Select Committee. It was clear that there is no real risk of Yashika absconding, and so no need to detain her.
He added that the decision to remove her immediately would threatens to cut her education and “aspirations for a better life” short.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits and in this case the applicant was not considered to be in need of protection.
“The case has gone through the proper legal process and our decision has been supported by the courts on five separate occasions.”
The spokesman added that the government has gained assurances from their Mauritian counterparts that Yashika’s safety would be protected.