A 31-year-old Indian woman, who slipped into a coma after undergoing a major operation, has been threatened with deportation by UK Home Office officials. Bhavani Espathi is said to be in a similar condition since a week after she had undergone an operation. She has received a letter stating that her application to remain on leave had been refused and that she was liable to be forcibly removed.
The UK Home Office is being accused of being cruel and insensitive ever since the news gained attention. According to lawyers and politicians, the case demonstrated how the UK immigration rules were permitting the government to "send people to their death abroad" as part of the hostile environment.
While Espathi laid unconscious, her fiance, 33-year-old Martin Mangler, appealed against the decision. He provided medical letters stating that she would be at risk of life if she travelled.
However, the Home Office said that while the medical treatment she was receiving was "unlikely" to be available to the same standard in India, this did not entitle her to remain in the UK - and that she could receive "palliative care" in her home country if the appropriate treatment wasn't available there.
Espathi, who came to the UK on a study visa in 2010, proceeded to work in the art industry before she fell ill with Crohn's disease - a digestive tract disorder - said she would be "risking her life" if she had to leave the country.
She has also launched an online campaign to seek support for her case.
"I thought there was no way they could dispute my application. I wasn't expecting them to say that 'even if the drugs aren't available then you could receive palliative care'."
"I'm trying to be rational. I don't think they would put me on a plane if they actually saw me. I have tubes all over me. But then I also read stories about them coming to get people with no time to get legal representation," she said.
Espathi had initially been living in Britain on student and work visas, but she reapplied under human rights medical grounds after she fell ill.
Her application was refused in September 2018 while she was unconscious in hospital and her appeal was refused two months later.
She had to be admitted to the hospital again in April due to complications with her bowel. She currently relies on a drip, has a bag attached to her stomach and is waiting to undergo further surgery in the summer.
Chai Patel, legal director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), said the Home Office's decision to issue Espathi a removal order when she was in a coma was "inhumane and cruel", but "not surprising from a department where officials are trained in how to reject human rights claims".