Wednesday, October 19, 2022

India bars Kashmiri journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo from flying

Kashmiri journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo, who was prevented from flying to the United States by Indian authorities to collect her Pulitzer Prize, told Al Jazeera she is “heartbroken”. It was the second time the photographer was stopped from flying out of the country in less than six months.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for me to go for receiving the Pulitzer Prize. But I was stopped without any reason. I am very heartbroken and disappointed.” Sanna told Al Jazeera.

The 28-year-old photojournalist was one of four journalists working for the Reuters news agency who won the Pulitzer for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I cannot even describe how I feel. I was stopped and my passport was stamped ‘cancelled without prejudice’. I have tried to reach out to many officials but no one responded to me. This is a massive setback to my career,” she said.

She was stopped by immigration authorities at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport late on Tuesday and prevented from boarding.

In July she was stopped in a similar manner at the same airport while on her way to Paris for a book launch and photography exhibition.

She is among several Kashmiri journalists and activists who have been prevented from flying out of the country for their coverage of the decades-long conflict in the Himalayan region.

On Wednesday, the US State Department said it was “tracking” the situation.

“A shared commitment to democratic values including the respect for the independence of the press is a bedrock of the US-India relationship,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.

19/10/22 AlJazeera

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