Group of Londoners vows to fight for Indian man facing deportation

LONDON: A group of residents from south-east London have vowed to fight back after a ‘beloved member of the community’ praised by the late Queen’s spokesman for his services to the COVID pandemic lost a legal battle over a visa and now faces deportation in India.
The Residents of Rotherhithe group has collected more than 177,000 signatures through an online petition in support of it Vimal Pandyawho came to the UK from India on a student visa but was left stranded after his educational institution lost its license to sponsor international students.
The 42-year-old recently lost an immigration court hearing and is now said to be in talks with his lawyers about a settlement.
“We are devastated. He is devastated. But we will not give up the fight if a path forward is found,” residents said in a Change.Org petition update last week.
“Vimal has always shown how much he cares about the community of Rotherhithe where he has lived for 11 years. So many of us have benefited from his help and support over the years, which is why we are fighting to prevent his unfair deportation,” they say.
Having arrived in the UK from India in 2011 to study, Pandya was refused re-entry after returning home in April 2014 to take a seriously ill relative back to her parents.
UK Border Force officials informed him that the college he was enrolled at had lost his right to sponsorship, but neither the college nor the Home Office had informed him of this.
Then, without access to his original passport and other documents, he faced an uphill battle to deal with the issue. Since then, he has spent thousands of pounds trying to settle his immigration status and complete his education, on top of many thousands of pounds in lost college fees and a mounting debt.
“While awaiting permission to continue his studies, Vimal has become an integral part of the Rotherhithe community. Now he is really needed and we don’t want him to go,” said his group of local supporters.
During the pandemic, Pandya worked as a local shopkeeper and is said to have worked tirelessly devoting “every waking hour” to ensure those in isolation during the national lockdown regularly receive food and basic supplies.
His community service brought him to the attention of Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, who wrote to him in February last year on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, thanking him for his outstanding efforts.
“It’s all crossed the line and we have to respect the country’s decision but… if someone has given so much to the country, being rewarded by the Queen, I don’t know why they have to move,” one resident told ‘Southwark News”.
The local MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark in London, Neil Coyle, spoke at a recent hearing in favor of Pandya, but the judge noted that the court was bound by “the laws that are passed and not the view of an MP”. .

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