Australian journalist says Indian authorities pressured her to go away | EUROtoday

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NEW DELHI — An Australian journalist with the nation’s public broadcaster was pressured to go away India after Indian authorities expressed anger over her reporting on Sikh separatism and knowledgeable her that her journalist visa wouldn’t be renewed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the journalist, ABC South Asia bureau chief Avani Dias, mentioned Tuesday.

The ABC, the one Australian media group with resident journalists posted in India, mentioned in an article printed on its web site that “weeks of lobbying” by Australian diplomats and the workplace of Foreign Minister Penny Wong prompted the Indian authorities to overturn its determination and provides Dias a two-month visa extension, however the reversal got here lower than 24 hours earlier than Dias was attributable to depart the nation. Dias flew to Australia on Friday, the primary day of India’s nationwide elections.

“It felt too difficult to do my job in India,” Dias mentioned in a brand new episode of her podcast sequence, “Looking for Modi,” that was launched by the ABC on Tuesday. “I was struggling to get into public events run by Modi’s party, the government wouldn’t even give me the passes I need to cover the election, and the ministry left it all so late that we were already packed up and ready to go.”

Indian officers mentioned Dias was “found to have violated visa rules while undertaking her professional pursuits” and characterised her account as “not correct, misleading and mischievous.” The officers mentioned Dias was granted a visa extension on April 18 however selected to go away India on April 20. She would have been free to cowl the elections had she stayed, they added.

Dias’s case marked the primary time in years {that a} international correspondent on a resident journalist visa has left India below such circumstances. But many different international nationals working as journalists below different visas have confronted mounting strain in India.

This yr, India stripped French journalist Vanessa Dougnac — who had labored in India for 23 years for newspapers together with Le Croix and Le Point — of her Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, a everlasting residency standing that’s granted to international nationals who’re married to Indian residents or have Indian heritage.

India’s Home Ministry accused Dougnac of manufacturing “malicious and critical” reporting that created a “negative perception” of India, inciting dysfunction and touring to restricted areas, in line with the Indian information web site ThePrint. Dougnac denied misconduct and returned to France on Feb. 16 after French officers unsuccessfully appealed her case throughout a go to by President Emmanuel Macron to New Delhi.

Since 2021, the Indian authorities has required OCI holders to use for separate permission to work as journalists, legal professionals or missionaries. But authorities have denied reporting credentials for not less than six Western journalists, together with high-profile workers on the BBC and Al Jazeera. These international nationals had been dwelling in India and dealing as journalists for years earlier than the federal government started its clampdown, forcing a number of to go away.

In 2023, Indian tax authorities raided the BBC newsroom in India shortly after the broadcaster aired a documentary in Britain that was essential of Prime Minister Narendra Modi .

In her newest podcast episode, Dias mentioned she was informed by Indian officers {that a} 30-minute program she produced on the Khalistan separatist motion and the Indian intelligence company’s alleged assassination of Khalistan leaders overseas had “gone too far.” Indian officers additionally took difficulty along with her earlier podcast episodes, which have delved into Modi’s private life, she recalled.

Dias declined additional remark.

The Indian authorities considers the Khalistan motion and its supporters to be threats to nationwide safety and ordered YouTube to take down the ABC episode in India after it was launched in March. YouTube complied with the order. In the wake of Dias’s departure, an unnamed Indian official informed the Hindustan Times on Tuesday that her documentary “glorified terrorism,” lacked objectivity and provided a platform to “extremists and a fringe group of separatists.”

ABC Managing Director David Anderson mentioned in an announcement that the broadcaster “fully backs and stands by the important and impactful reporting by Avani Dias during her time as ABC correspondent in India. … The ABC believes strongly in the role of independent journalism across the globe, and freedom of the press outside Australia.”

India in recent times has steadily declined within the Reporters Without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index, reaching a low of 161st place within the 2023 version. Indian journalists are sometimes topic to pressures exceeding what international correspondents face, together with on-line harassment, tax investigations, digital surveillance and arrest.