The Rotherhithe Residents group vows to fight for a valuable community member who faces deportation
Image by Change.Org
A “beloved community member” of south-east London is facing deportation after losing a legal battle against the Home Office.
42-year-old Vimal Pandya who has been appreciated by the late Queen’s representative for his selfless services during the covid-19 pandemic, is being supported by the Rotherhithe Residents group.
The group has pledged to fight for him and gathered over 177,000 signatures in a petition that was published online to support the man who came to the UK on a student visa from India.
Pandya came to the country to study in 2011, however he went back to India in April 2014 to drop of a friend who was unwell at the time, back to her parents’ home. He was denied reentry by the UK Border Force upon his return as his university had lost its license to sponsor students.
He wasn’t made aware of this by the Home Office and the university earlier. Since then, he has been in a constant battle to be able to complete his education regularise his immigration status.
It has been reported that he has spent thousands of pounds in the legal battle and lost thousands of pounds in college fees which has increased his debt burden. After losing his hearing at the immigration tribunal, he is in talks with his lawyers on what steps he can take ahead.
The residents posted a petition on Change.Org where they wrote, “We are devastated. He is devastated. But we will not give up the fight, if any path forward can be found. “Vimal has always shown how much he cares about the Rotherhithe community where he’s 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 stop him being unjustly deported.” A group of local supporters said, “While awaiting permission to continue his studies, Vimal has become an integral part of the Rotherhithe community.
Now he is truly indispensable, and we don’t want him to leave.” Pandya won the hearts of the people in his local community during the pandemic when he was employed as a local shopkeeper and worked tirelessly day and night to provide food and supplies for those who were self-isolating during the lockdowns.
He was then lauded for his efforts by Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, after his community service informed of his contributions. Sir Olisa wrote to Pandya in February last year on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, thanking him for being a valuable member of the community.
Neil Coyle, the local member of Parliament for Bermondsey and Old Southwark in London, spoke strongly in favour of Pandya at a recent hearing. However, the judge replied that the tribunal had to make decisions according to “the laws that are passed rather than the view of one MP”.