KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – The official Indian delegation going to World Youth Day Madrid has fallen victim to bureaucratic suspicion and are subject to discrimination because they are poor.
“Our young people can’t show a huge bank balance and the Spanish Visa authorities think that they are all potential refugees in the European Union,’ says a national youth animator on anonymity.
He adds, “our Indian Catholic Youth Movement is taking some 800 youth and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India is taking another 342 young people. Of these, 11,42 youth and their animators and chaplains, some 600 young people have not yet got their visa even after several rounds of futile attempts.”
He further laments saying, “they [young people] have now hardly one week left to travel…. And they are facing a total embarrassment after all the hype and national level preparations for World Youth Day.”
“This is in deed pathetic, that the Spanish officials consider us potential refugees, just because we cannot show a fat bank balance,” he says in disgust and frustration.
“Even four priests accompanying young people to the WYD have been denied visa,” he says.
“This is discrimination against our young people, just because they are poor… and a discredit to us, youth animators and chaplains, who have accompanied them all these months,” he tells.
In another instance, of a group of 48 young people belonging to Don Bosco Youth Animation India, some ten youth have been denied visa, dashing their dream trip to WYD and cherished visit to Don Bosco’s places in Turin and Rome.
India’s neighbour Nepal is not sending an official youth delegation to WYD this year. It could be a punitive measure by church authorities, because one of their members remained back after WYD Cologne (Germany) in 2005. Also Nepal did not have an official delegation for the WYD Australia in 2008.
In the last WYD in Australia, some 39 Indians disappeared. The small group was part of a 1220 strong “official” delegation from India. They took advantage of a stopover in New Zealand to run off. However, the Church authorities helped bring back over 30 missing youth.
The official WYD events are scheduled for 15-21 August 2011.