Kenyan Immigration barred from deporting Indian
Posted by Administrator on February 7, 2012
THE Immigration ministry has been stopped from deporting a scratch card printing expert working at a new factory in Thika. Last week at the High Court, Justice Mohammed Warsame barred the principal immigration officer from cancelling the work permit of Devaraj Malarmesai Bagavan. It was issued in April 2011 to allow him to work as production manager for Sintel Security Print Solutions Limited.
Until Sintel started its Thika factory, the only scratch card plant in East Africa was operated by Ellams Products. The scratch card business is large, with telecom companies spending an estimated $100 million (Sh8.4 billion) annually on airtime cards for eastern and central Africa. Bagavan, who was a top scratch card printing expert in India, worked for Ellams from 2003 to 2007.
In his affidavit, Bagavan claimed immigration officers colluded with Ellams to take him to the airport without notice and put him on a plane after he fell out with senior management. Sintel head-hunted Bagavan, along with three other experts, in 2010 to help set up a new factory in Thika. Sintel managing director Bipin Vora convinced Bagavan to return to Kenya and work for his firm, saying the new constitution protects people from abuse of law. The Thika factory started operations in September 2011.
According to Bagavan’s affidavit, a mobile operator gave Sintel an order for 11 million scratch cards in October. “They were very pleased with the quality of the Sintel product and the market acceptance was very good. That led to discussions ongoing currently with the mobile operator for a long-term contract for supply of scratch cards which would reduce the cost to the customer by nearly 40 per cent of the prices charged by Ellams,” said Bagavan.
However, on January 17, this year, immigration officer DN Wambilianga cancelled Bagavan’s work permit without warning. No reason was given. On January 16, Bagavan’s lawyer Aurelio Rebelo wrote to Ellams MD Nayan Patel saying, “You are well aware this company has the capacity to break your monopoly of the production of scratch cards…Your hand can readily be detected in the current manoeuvres.”
In the court documents, Vora stated that he checked with the Immigration Department before employing Bagavan. “There was no negative report in his file. The last correspondence according to the immigration offices was from Ellams who informed Immigration that Bagavan had left the country in June 2007. They enclosed an air ticket and informed immigration that they did not require his services,” stated Vora. “When we wanted to recruit a production manager, our attention was drawn to Bagavan.
He had worked in Kenya for more than 10 years and had dealt with such machines, both at Paper Converters where he worked for six years from 1996 to 2002, and then for three-and-a-half years with Ellams. I telephoned Bagavan to join us as production manager and he turned down the offer due to the unpleasant experience he had with Ellams,” said Vora. “I persisted and assured him of the safety of his family and himself. I invited him for an interview in Nairobi and sent him a business class return ticket to travel to Nairobi on November 26. I assured him that he would not be harassed or mistreated when he comes to Nairobi.”
According to his affidavit, Bagavan was employed by Ellams between 2003 and 2007 when they organised to him locked up and put on a flight to India. The documents state that Bagavan had asked to leave the company after getting a better offer elsewhere. In a court affidavit, Bagavan claims that in 2007 Ellams senior management took his passport, then called him to a meeting on June 8, 2007. From there he was taken to the airport where he was locked in a cell before being put on an Air India flight to Mumbai. He claimed he lost many personal belongings in the process.
Source: The Star
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