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IIOJK in focus

Travel ban on Kashmiri photojournalist: RSF says Indian govt’s arbitrariness knows no bound’

Paris, July 05 (KMS): International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) while reacting to the travel restriction on a Kashmiri photojournalist who was recently barred from boarding a flight at Delhi airport for a scheduled photography exhibition in Paris has said that the Indian government’s ‘arbitrariness’ against journalists knows no bound.

The Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo who recently won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize award, was Saturday (July 2) barred from boarding an international flight for a scheduled photography exhibition in Paris.

The RSF is an international NGO that defends and promotes media freedom and has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie.

The RSF tweeted that despite being invited to the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France, Kashmir’s photo-reporter Sanna Matoo has been barred from leaving India with no official reason. It added that Indian government’s arbitrariness against journalists knows no bound.

In a tweet, Mattoo said, “I was scheduled to travel from Delhi to Paris today (Saturday) for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles grant 2020. Despite procuring a French visa, I was stopped at the immigration desk at Delhi airport.”

“I was not given any reason but told I would not be able to travel internationally,” the journalist added.

As per the Mattoo, she was not given any reason as to why she was not allowed to board the international flight.

Pertinently, in May this year, Mattoo won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize award in the Feature Photography 2022 category for the coverage of COVID crisis in India.

Mattoo and her colleagues Adnan Abidi, Danish Siddiqui and Amit Dave from the Reuters news agency won the award, announced on May 9, 2022, for “images of Covid’s toll in India that balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place”, according to The Pulitzer Prizes website.

Danish Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan last year while covering the fight between Taliban and the then government forces in the country.

Last year, three Kashmiri photojournalists Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, and Channi Anand won the prestigious Pulitzer.

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature and musical composition within the US. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University.

Earlier on March 29, Indian Journalist Rana Ayyub was stopped at Mumbai airport from boarding a flight to London. She was stopped from travelling abroad because India’s Enforcement Directorate has issued a lookout notice for her.

Ayyub had told reporters that she had an event on April 1 with some of the top jurors, editors and diplomats in London. On the same day, she was to speak at The Guardian’s office at the invitation of the newspaper’s editor Katharine Viner. Then on April 6 and 7, she was to be in Italy to attend an event called the International Journalism Festival.

“I had tweeted about all the events three weeks in advance,” Ayyub was quoted by the Indian media as saying. “My flight was at 3 pm today [Tuesday]. The immigration people were confused. An hour after back and forth, the ED told the immigration to tell me that they are sending me a summons to appear on April 1. The summons was received by me today on mail around 2 pm, exactly an hour before departure,” she added.

However, on April 4, 2022, the Delhi High Court permitted her to travel abroad. The court also questioned the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over a Look Out Circular issued against her barring her from travelling abroad.

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