ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Shooting the Messenger

The world's largest democracy continues to fear being questioned about its actions in Kashmir.

It is extraordinary that a country that claims to be a democracy still resorts to deporting people it suspects will disseminate information it would prefer to suppress. The manner in which David Barsamian, the award-winning American journalist and founder-director of Alternative Radio, was sent back from New Delhi airport on 23 September is one more illustration of the Government of India’s undemocratic mindset. It is also an antiquated mindset, for in an age when information is freely available and moves across borders with such ease, it makes no sense for government agencies to keep journalists out of the country.

Barsamian has been an outspoken critic of American foreign policy, and has criticised the international arms industry and the role of corporate media in obscuring reality. Fluent in Urdu and Hindi, he has also commented critically on India’s handling of the Kashmir issue as well as on other controversies such as adivasi struggles against mining companies. He has visited Kashmir thrice in the last 15 years and, predictably, his interviews with the ordinary people there on prevailing conditions did not make him a favourite with the authorities. Scheduled to report on the 2,730 unmarked graves found by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu and Kashmir recently, Barsamian landed in Delhi with a valid visa on 23 September. He never left the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Within two hours, he was on a plane back to the United States, deported for “misusing” his tourist visa.

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