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Mother's tears over deportation bid
Mauritian student Yashika Bageerathi is being driven to the airport and will be deported, her school has said
Heartbroken and distressed family, friends and supporters of A-level student Yashika Bageerath vowed they would fight to return her to Britain after appearing to lose a legal battle to stop her deportation.
Previous attempts to deport the 19-year-old to Mauritius have been thwarted and frustrated when Air Mauritus refused to fly her out following an earlier refusal by British Airways - but Air Mauritus confirmed it has received a "directive" from the UK authorities and the youngster must leave.
It came after a judge at London's Law Courts has refused to grant an emergency injunction to block Miss Bageerathi's deportation to give her time to take her case to the Court of Appeal.
The last-ditch application was made as the youngster was being driven from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire to Heathrow airport for an Air Mauritius flight at 9pm.
A spokesman for Oasis, a campaign group which is fighting for Miss Bageerath to stay, said they now feared she has been forced out of Britain on her own.
He said: "The last we we heard is that the flight was taxiing on the runway. We are very worried. No one is confirming anything. I can only assume that she has gone. She is the sort of person who would have telephoned us if she got a reprieve. We are all very worried."
An Air Mauritius spokesman said: "Yesterday 1st of April, Air Mauritius received a directive from UK authorities for the repatriation of Miss Bhageerathi. All conditions having been satisfied, the company had no other choice than to abide by the directive.
"The company has taken all steps to ensure that the flight of Miss Bhageerathi takes place in the best possible conditions.
"Air Mauritius regrets this situation, but as all airline companies cannot but abide by decisions taken by relevant authorities."
A spokesman at the Judicial Office confirmed the application had failed, but gave no further details.
In such cases, deportation orders are only stayed if a judge decides the case raises issues which are arguable and merit a further hearing.
The Home Office would give no official confirmation that the deportation had been carried out but a spokesman said: "The case has gone through the proper legal process and our decision has been supported by the courts on five separate occasions."
Ms Bageerathi, whose case has sparked a petition that has attracted around 175,000 signatures, has been detained at Yarl's Wood since March 19. She was due to be deported on Mother's Day but her removal was deferred.
The teenager's clearly-distressed mother could barely speak through her tears as she begged the authorities to allow Yashika to stay just long enough to finish her A-levels.
Speaking after the court ruling, Sowbhagyawatee Bageerathi told Channel 4 News: "Where she is going, she is worried about the life and the education. She has worked so hard here and now they want to ruin her life."
Mrs Bageerathi, who was comforted by Yashika's principal Lynne Dawes as she struggled not to break down, said: "I am very sad for my daughter . I am very worried. I want everybody to go together and not to send her alone. "
She promised that she would leave Britain with her two other children who are at school in England, if the authorities had a change of heart and did not deport Yashika. She also managed to force out the words "let her finish her exams".
Ms Dawes, the principal at Oasis Academy Hadley, told Channel 4 News: "We were really hoping that some compassion would be shown and she would be allowed to stay.
"If she does go today we will be doing everything possible to support her in Mauritius and also to try and help her complete her education but I really don't know what is possible - certainly she can't sit Mauritian A-levels because they won't be the same courses.
"We are still hoping that some compassion can be shown."
Miss Bageerath came to the UK with her mother, sister and brother in 2011 to escape a relative who was physically abusive and claimed asylum last summer.
She was due to take her A-level exams next month, with the first on May 14 and the final one will be held on June 23.
MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, had written to the Home Secretary to ask her to "urgently reconsider" the deportation.
In his letter to Theresa May, Mr Vaz said: "It is hardship enough for this young woman to be separated from her family and returned to Mauritius, where she claims she fears persecution.
"To interrupt her education at this late stage in order to do so seems needlessly cruel.
"It would be a simple and uncontroversial act of clemency to release her from detention and defer her deportation for a few weeks so that she can complete her education, and her case can be properly reconsidered."
Air Mauritius noted that it had been contacted by UK authorities during the last attempt to deport Miss Bhageerathi.
At that point, the spokesman noted: "Considering that all conditions (administrative and security) had not been met, Air Mauritius was not in a position to take the passenger on-board."
Matters now seem to have changed and the UK authorities claim they have assurances from the Mauritian officials that the family's safety will be protected and that she will be able to complete her education.
Miss Bageerath's friends at the Oasis Academy Hadley say she has made "an outstanding contribution" to the life there since she arrived.
Not only is she an incredibly talented mathematician, she has helped to train, teach and coach younger students in the subject while also pouring herself into voluntary work, they recalled.
Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis campaign, said: "If anyone at the Home Office thinks that things are about to die down now that Yashika is out the country, they have well and truly got another thing coming.
"Our legal systems are designed to protect those who are vulnerable and reflect the heart of the British people. In this instance, they have done exactly the opposite.
"A young girl is being taken back to a potentially dangerous situation despite the fact that it is clear most people want her to remain in the country.
"Our students have been responsible for one of the most selfless and high-profile campaigns run by young people in years. It's clear from anyone that has spoken to them that this is just the beginning."
Miss Bageerath's MP David Burrowes said he was "deeply disappointed" by the deportation order.
The Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate said in terms of a having a robust, fair and humane immigration policy "in this particular individual case I believe that we have let Yashika down".
He told Channel 4 News: "An individual case needs to be looked at on its merits. Compassion and the circumstances need to be taken account of.
"Sadly in this case at the point of removal and the timing of removal, I don't believe that has happened.
"What is the harm of her just simply being allowed to continue to do her exams and be with her family?"