Filippo Osella, a well-known anthropological and social scientist who arrived in Thiruvananthapuram from the United Kingdom on Thursday morning, was asked to leave the moment he stepped off the plane at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Osella, who was the head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sussex and is well-known for his thorough understanding of Kerala’s cultural and religious trends, flew down to Thiruvananthapuram to attend a three-day conference on livelihood issues affecting coastal communities in Kerala. Osella was not given any specific reason for the ban on his arrival.
He told us that immigration officials had put him through the regular inspections and that after confirming his identity, he was told that he was not permitted to enter India. Osella possessed all of the required documentation. Osella was told that they were following orders from the Indian government. Osella was intended to deliver his research on coastal community adaptation at the community level.
Though it is unclear what precipitated Osella’s unexpected India ban, Osella’s research on the Muslim reform movement in Kerala contradicted the Hindutva thesis.
In his important research ‘Islamism and Social Reform in Kerala, South India,’ Osella writes: “We see strong academic trends of open disdain for reformism, which is then mistakenly – and dangerously – labeled as going against the grain of South Asian society. This frequently coincides with the false labeling of all reformism as ‘foreign inspired’ or wah’habi.”