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Another Kashmiri journalist stopped from leaving country, No reason given

Aakash Hassan Was On His Way To Colombo When He Was Stopped By Immigration At IGI Airport, Delhi.

Press-freedom
Illustration: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: Independent Kashmiri journalist Aakash Hassan, who writes on human rights, digital technologies and South Asian politics for several Indian and foreign publications, was on Tuesday prevented by the immigration authorities at Delhi airport from leaving for Sri Lanka for work. This is the second instance within the month of July when a Kashmiri journalist has been denied permission to travel abroad. And as in the case of Sanna Irshad Mattoo on July 2, Hassan too was not provided any reason for the action.

Hassan conveyed the news about him being stopped from travelling abroad via Twitter. At 8:19 pm on Tuesday (July 26), he tweeted that Immigration officials at IGI Airport in New Delhi barred him from boarding a flight to Colombo. “I was headed to report on the current crises in the country,” he tweeted, adding that “the immigration officials took my passport, boarding pass and have made me sit in a room for last four hours.”

Thereafter, he wrote, he was not given any reason by the officials on why they were blocking his departure. “The officials are not giving any me any reason for why I am not allowed. A staff from the airlines I was travelling in told me that officials have directed them to offload my luggage from the aircraft. I was questioned by two officials about my background, travel purpose,” he said in another tweet.

Hassan tweeted again later that after making him wait for five hours, during which he was not even given water to drink, the officials returned his passport and boarding pass with a cancellation stamp.

Hassan’s case bears a stark resemblance to that of Pulitzer-winnning Kashmiri photojournalist Mattoo, who too was stopped in a similar fashion at Delhi airport while she was on her way to Paris for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of the 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles grant 2020.

In Mattoo’s case too, the authorities had allegedly not given her a reason for refusing to let her leave the country, but simply said she could not travel internationally.

Meanwhile, a senior journalist tweeted that this was fourth instance, he could recall, where a Kashmiri journalist has been prevented from flying out.