"We Are All Gurmit Kaur," say fellow South Asians, coming in support of an elderly Indian-origin lady who received a deportation notice from the UK in 2019. Gurmit Kaur, a 78-year-old widow, came to Smethwick, UK in 2009 to live with her son. A few years later, she got estranged from her family and relied on the kindness of strangers and local charities for shelter, until she got deported. With no family left in India, nor a support system in the Smethwick, Kaur's appeal for stay has garnered the support of the South Asian community in the UK.
An online petition started in July 2020, is being circulated and gathered close to 6.5 lakh signatures in support of Kaur's appeal for a stay. “Gurmit Kaur applied to stay in the UK but has been refused even though she has no family to return to in Punjab, India. Gurmit is a very kind woman, even though she has nothing she is still generous and will always give what she can, when she can. Most of her days are spent volunteering at the local gurdwara,” reads the petition on change.org.
Gurmit Kaur's Appeal
Salman Mirza, an immigration advisor for the Brushstroke Community Project, who started the "We Are All Gurmit Kaur" campaign and petition. Mirza, who is among those helping Kaur through the visa appeals process, told BBC that the ordeal has been torture for the elderly lady. With the backing of the South Asian community, Kaur appealed against the Home Office ruling last month, but this was rejected by the courts.
"She has a derelict house in the village, with no roof, and will have to find heating, food, and resources in a village she hasn't been to in 11 years... It's like water torture, a slow death. She's never had the right to work and provide for herself," Mirza commented.
However, the UK Home Office maintains that Kaur is in contact with people in her village in Punjab and that she would be able to re-adjust to life there. A Home Office spokesperson told BBC that all appeals and applications are "carefully considered on their individual merits and on the basis of the evidence provided."
Gurmit Kaur, although away from her kin, has been named "kind aunty" by the South Asian community, particularly the Sikhs. The elderly lady has been volunteering at the local Gurudwara's kitchen, doing whatever little she can for the community, in spite of her dire circumstances, the petitioners said.