Home office bans disabled musicians from travelling to Edinburgh for cultural event

Campaigners are appealing against the Home Office decision.
Campaigners are appealing against the Home Office decision.
Share this article
Have your say

Two disabled musicians have been banned by the Home Office from attending a two week cultural exchange in Edinburgh.

Campaigners are appealing to the public to back their petition to overturn the decision.

The decision to bar 19-year-old violinist Jyothi Kalaiselvi and 25-year-old keyboardist Prem Bhagavan Nagaraju, who are both blind, from coming into Britain for the programme, hosted by charity Paragon Music, was apparently made because of the “economic and family circumstances” of the pair.

The Home Office said it was “not satisfied that you have sufficient ties in India that will act as an incentive for you to leave the UK at the end of your trip”.

However, their non-disabled colleagues, who were travelling with them from the Devasitham Charitable Foundation (DCF) in Chennai to Glasgow, were granted entry without any trouble.

Ninan Perry, Creative Director of Paragon said: “We are hoping to build enough support from the petition so that we can put pressure on the Home Office to reverse its decision. We are determined to see our colleagues from Chennai here in Scotland, especially since they hosted our exchange visit to them back in November 2017. We need to get as many signatures as possible - there are only 470 at the moment but we need to get thousands to making any kind of impact with the Home Office.

“Our team here at Paragon are absolutely devastated, and our friends in Chennai are so sad and inconsolable. The only consolation for the two young blind people was that their non disabled carers did not leave to come to Scotland, instead they stayed with them in Chennai.

"This cultural exchange visit was designed to address the barriers faced by disabled people when participating in cultural activities.

"The experiences and insights that the two young disabled musicians would bring to the programme were absolutely crucial to the success of the exchange, so there was no point to the exchange if they were not able to come - that is why the whole thing has had to be cancelled.”

Mr Perry also explained that Paragon have lost a substantial amount of money over the visa rejections with cancellation fees amounting to nearly ten thousand pounds.

Edinburgh North and Leith SNP MP Deidre Brock said she was "beyond furious" about the situation. She went on to say that: "I have spent two years highlighting regressive and apparently arbitrary visa decisions such as this, being made on our behalf by people who don’t care if Scotland's reputation for welcoming global citizens to our shores and for cultural excellence is trashed.”