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Kashmiri journalist and activist stopped by Delhi airport immigration officials

Image Credit :- The Wire

Bilal Bhat

Journalist and Human Rights Defender

New Delhi

 

HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on October 24, 2019, regarding the stopping of Kashmiri journalist and human rights defender Mr. Bilal Bhat by immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi on October 13, 2019. Mr. Bhat was barred from flying in an international flight to Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia to participate as an Indian delegate at the Children and Youth Assembly being organised by UN-Habitat and the UN-ESCAP. He was also recently awarded by the Indian Health Ministry.

After the August 5, 2019, decision of the Government of India to dilute Article 370 and revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, several Kashmiri figures have been barred from travelling abroad. This includes at least two other high- profile Kashmiris – bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal and Journalist – author and human rights defender Mr. Gowhar Geelani August 14, 2019 and August 31, 2019 respectively.

According to sources, Mr. Bhat was due to take an AirAsia flight on October 13, 2019 from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia by immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.  At 8 pm, when he reached the immigration counter, he was first asked if he was a Kashmiri and then enquired about the purpose of his visit. Faced with more questions and verification for his age, his driver’s licence, visa and some other documents were taken. He spent nearly six hours at the airport waiting for a reason for being prohibited to take the flight after and then to get his baggage, which was offloaded from his flight. The defender was not given any reason for not allowing him to travel abroad except for being informed that his visa was “cancelled without prejudice.”

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