"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Death in Detention


Just when my opinion of HO and its vile practices could sink no lower, 33 year old Pinakin Patel, who with his wife Bhavisha, had been locked up in Yarl's Wood for over two months, died in detention this week. The young couple from India had hoped to visit family and friends and visit Scotland for a 10-day holiday, but were refused entry and detained.

Their crime? Although they held visitor visas, itinerary and return tickets, Bhavisha carried evidence of her qualifications, making immigration officers suspect the couple was entering UK, with its gold-paved streets, to work.

I believe Bhavisha's claims that she brought the docs with her only because she didn't know what would be needed at the border.  It's entirely possible the couple had submitted these in order to obtain the visit visa, so maybe they thought it would be needed at immigration too. (Incidentally, if one really wants to enter the UK to work illegally, surely a mastermind would post the docs from overseas?).  IOs either discovered the qualifications or the couple volunteered them - former suggests profiling and targeting (remember Radha Patel?), the latter, obviously innocence.

On the off-chance IOs did catch the couple entering the UK to work unlawfully (although this is infinitely better than when Brits entered India purely to exploit), detaining them for so long rather than putting them on a return flight, is a disproportionate response, exacerbated by the fact that the couple offered to leave one month in at Yarl's Wood. Perhaps the couple sought asylum as a means to at least being allowed in to make their case - tickets and visas don't come cheap - but they did subsequently seem to give up hopes of seeing our sites and offered to leave which whatever their actual motives, HO should have taken up.

However, HO enjoys keeping people in detention indefinitely, whilst subsequently spending millions deporting them in a show of might, even spending our money to persuade judges that foreigners must be removed.  So rather than take up the offer of voluntary departure, HO insisted the couple had to stay until their case was processed - I reckon it helps their statistics to show how fantastically powerful they are which probably makes Theresa May purr!

I'm ashamed to be funding this government. I'm upset that an innocent man died. I'm saddened Bhavisha is grieving without support of friends & family in a strange nation which at best treats people wanting to work without the right papers like hard-core criminals, at worst imprisons tourists. And I'm fuming that Bhavisha is still locked up.

While it's humbling to see other detainees rallying in support of Bhavisha's release, I wonder what kind of life she will have when eventually allowed to return to India - haunted by memories of the last few months of her marriage spent in detention, knowing her husband's death in a stressful situation might have been avoided had he not been trapped; regret that if only they had chosen another country to visit and make memories in; maybe even guilt for obtaining qualifications that have proven to be so expensive.

My sympathies to Pinakin's parents mourning their son's loss without his body to pay last respects to. No doubt they won't be allowed here for his funeral.

Update 24/04/15: We understand Bhavisha has now been released from Yarl's Wood but is still in the UK with family.


  1. In my opinion, it seems unlikely that the Home Office would deliberately have wanted to detain the couple rather than deporting them, as suggested in the article, but the department is notorious for delays and poor management, which could have caused this.

    1. Agreed. On reflection I suspect HO didn't have a choice but to not accept the voluntary removal offer, because there are likely protection mechanisms in place to prevent people from being bullied into 'choosing' to leave and heading to dangerous situations in their home countries.

  2. I am absolutely horrified that these poor people were carted off to Yarl's Wood straight from the airport, turning what should have been a pleasant holiday in the UK into a completely unnecessary tragedy and the death of Mr Patel. The immigration system is based on a racist set of assumptions, and the immigration detention system needs to be dismantled. The UK is the only country in Europe to detain people in these horrible places indefinitely.

  3. There seems to be a general consensus amongst the non-Tory parties that there must be a time limit. Will be interesting to see what the next govt brings and what this time limit is set at.