Kashmiri Human Rights Journalist Stopped From Leaving India, Continuing Trend Of Officials Restricting Travel For Modi’s Critics - IAMC

Kashmiri Human Rights Journalist Stopped From Leaving India, Continuing Trend Of Officials Restricting Travel For Modi’s Critics

Independent Kashmiri journalist Aakash Hassan became the latest critic of the Modi regime to be barred from leaving India by immigration authorities at Delhi airport. Authorities questioned Hassan and forced him to wait for 5 hours without providing him with food or water before refusing to allow him to board his flight to Sri Lanka.

Hassan, who has reported on human rights abuses by Indian officials in Kashmir for a number of publications, including Al Jazeera and The Intercept, was not given any reason as to why he was being barred from leaving India.

“The officials are not giving me any reason for why I am not allowed…  I was questioned by two officials about my background, travel purpose,” he tweeted during the ordeal. “After making me wait for five hours, without providing even water to drink, I have been handed over my passport and boarding pass with a red rejection stamp: ‘Cancelled Without Prejudice.’”

Hassan’s story is the latest in a series of incidents where Indian authorities have stopped journalists and human rights defenders from travelling abroad. Earlier this month, Kashmiri photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Sana Irshad Mattoo was prevented from travelling to Paris without any reason from immigration officials. In March, India-based Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub was stopped from boarding a flight to London, where she was slated to speak at an event about democracy and press freedoms in India.  In April, Amnesty International India Chair and human rights defender Aakar Patel was barred from travelling to the United States.

Journalist Receives Arrest Warrant After Exposing BJP’s Problematic Economic Dealings 

Freelance journalist Ravi Nair, who has written a number of pieces exposing the problematic nature of several of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) economic policies and business dealings, was served an arrest warrant by the Delhi Police without warning.

The warrant was in connection with a criminal defamation suit filed against Nair by the Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate whose chair, Gautam Adani, has close ties with Narendra Modi. Nair had previously written critically on the relationship between the conglomerate and the central government.

Similar to other cases registered by the Modi regime and its supporters against human rights defenders and journalists, Nair did not receive a summons or a copy of the complaint, leaving him shocked by the news of the arrest warrant.

“I didn’t even know that there was a case filed against me. They should have served summons first. If the court has sent a summons, it never came to me… I have never received anything,” Nair said.

The shrinking freedoms of Indian journalists, particularly those who have produced content critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been cause for alarm among watchdog organizations that monitor global press freedoms. Reporters Without Borders in 2022 ranked India at 150 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom and safety for journalists, a staggering 8-point plunge from the year before. Journalists continue to be regularly harassed through the judiciary; notable recent cases include the arrest of fact-checker and AltNews cofounder Mohammad Zubair for criticizing Hindu supremacists, and Rupesh Kumar Singh, who was arrested for raising awareness about police brutality against India’s indigenous Adivasi people.

Muslim Parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi Slams BJP Hypocrisy In Treatment Of Hindus Versus Muslims

Muslim parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi, Chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, slammed the BJP’s blatant hypocrisy in its treatment of Hindus versus Muslims after officials of the BJP-ruled government of Uttar Pradesh dispatched a helicopter to shower flower petals on devotees taking part in the Hindu pilgrimage Kanwar Yatra.

“The BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government is showering flower petals on Kanwariyas (Hindu devotees) using public money. We want them to treat everyone equally. They do not shower flowers on us (Muslims). Instead, they bulldoze our houses,” Owaisi told reporters at India’s Parliament complex.

He added, “If a Muslim offers prayers in an open place even for a few minutes, it leads to a row. Muslims are facing police bullets, custodial clashes, NSA, UAPA, lynchings, bulldozers just for being Muslims.”