Yashika Bageerathi, the Mauritian student who made an unsuccessful claim for asylum in the UK over fears of being attacked by a relative back home, has been removed from Britain despite a high profile campaign to grant her leave to remain.
The 19-year-old was accompanied by two UK Border Agency guards as she boarded a flight back to Mauritius from Heathrow last night.
Yashika had fled to Britain in 2012 along with her mother and two younger siblings after what the family claimed was a history of attacks by a male relative.
Her asylum claim was however, handled separately from her family’s because she was considered an adult.
Her supporters, including fellow students, teachers as well as parliamentarian Keith Vaz, said they were “outraged” by the decision to remove Yashika just weeks before she completes her A-Level’s in June at the Oasis Academy in Hadley, North London.
Despite the appeals and a plea by Yashika’s mother Sowbhagyawatee, immigration minister James Brokenshire insisted that Yashika be deported. Mr Brokenshire was unmoved by contentions that whilst a 19-year-old in Britain may be seen fit to be judged as an adult, in communities such as the one that Yashika belongs to may not hold the same view with adult children dependent on their parents and extended families.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz on Tuesday described the Home Office’s treatment of Yashika “needlessly cruel” and had called on Home Secretary Theresa 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.
The deputy head teacher of the Oasis Academy, Sarah Hamilton, told Channel 4 News: “We are outraged this has happened after Yashika’s mother and head teacher appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee.”
She claimed 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”.
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 Airways 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 it was “perverse” to spend tax-payer’s money on “treating someone badly”.
Brokenshire, however, said that the case was not sufficiently “exceptional” to warrant ministerial intervention.
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.