Many of you will know that Swami Ramdev faced harassment and interrogation at Heathrow Airport (the biggest airport in the United Kingdom) during his recent travels to that country, to lead yoga camps and partake in other activities connected with celebrations of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary.
Many Hindu netizens reacted in a typically mindless knee jerk way by blaming the British authorities and saying things like “Cameron should apologise” (Cameron being the British PM).
However, when one sees the disturbing facts of how and why he was detained, we will see that the Airport authorities were only doing what they thought was their duty; after all they would barely know who Swami Ramdev was. The blame lies squarely elsewhere, with dark forces in India itself.
To briefly recount the facts, Swami Ramdev was detained at the airport upon arriving, for a period of approximately 8 hours. He asked the reason for which he was detained, but was not provided any explanation. Eventually, he was given a 24-hour visa and asked to return the next day to the airport for further questioning.
His passport, the leaflets he was carrying and his personal diary were seized while Hindi and Sanskrit translators were sought to scrutinize them.
One of Swami Ramdev’s well-wishers telephoned Keith Vaz, an Indian-origin MP for Leicester, who happens to be in a position of authority pertaining to official police and immigration policy.
He took the forthright and unprecedented step of inviting Baba Ramdev to his home to discuss the situation. Keith Vaz, whose wife happens to be a leading expert on immigration issues, spent several hours on the phone to the authorities involved at Heathrow, the Home Secretary as well as 10 Downing, Street, the British Prime Minister’s official residence.
Keith Vaz berated the immigration authorities roundly and then unexpectedly accompanied Baba Ramdev to Heathrow airport. The immigration authorities suddenly became receptive and acceded to Keith Vaz’s demand that Baba Ramdev’s passport and the seized documents be restored to him immediately. All this only took five minutes and he was granted a two-year multiple entry visa on by the immigration authorities on their own initiative. Keith Vaz earned the profound gratitude of Baba Ramdev’s followers and British Hindus for his huge efforts and extraordinary courtesy towards their revered saint.
It transpired that a coded notation, visible to scanners used in airports, had been imprinted in Baba Ramdev’s passport by authorities at New Delhi immigration control, as he was departing for the UK. Such a notation is reserved for terror suspects and drugs warlords and prompted an instant red alert when Baba Ramdev arrived at Heathrow. It would seem that the highest political authorities in Delhi sought to disrupt Baba Ramdev’s travel abroad, to the UK and US, where he was participating in various events connected to Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary. It can only be inferred that they have become so fearful of his campaign against corruption and support for political change in India that they were prepared to sink to the lowest depth imaginable. No doubt Baba Ramdev’s support for Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial candidature compounded their rage, prompting disregard for all legal and moral norms. They were prepared to instigate his overseas humiliation and possible arrest to perpetuate their corrupt hold on power.
Swami Ramdev has done substantial work in promoting good health through popularising ancient hatha yoga (yogic postures) and pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), and has also has made important contributions to raising public awareness about the extent of corruption. Even if one does not agree with everything Swami Ramdev has said or done, his ordeal is a very serious issue showing that Indian authorities are willing to go to any extent to victimise and spite people who dare to oppose them.
Acknowledgement: This article heavily borrows from Gautam Sen’s article on the same subject.