Foreign Journalists Violating Indian Laws Liable to Be Punished: MHATop Stories

December 28, 2018 17:49
Foreign Journalists Violating Indian Laws Liable to Be Punished: MHA

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The Indian Home Ministry official on Friday said all foreigners have to respect Indian law and those found in violation are liable to be punished but that does not mean they are blacklisted forever.

The statement comes after a Reuters journalist was denied entry into India for allegedly violating visa rules.

The action against Cathal McNaughton, chief photographer at the news agency's Delhi office who was recently sent back from the airport after his arrival from an overseas trip, is not permanent and can be reviewed after six months or a year, the official told PTI.

"Everybody has to follow the law. For violation, the consequence is the same for everybody. Foreigners should respect Indian law. If any Indian visits abroad and violates the law of that country, he or she is also liable to be punished," the official said.

McNaughton, an Irish national who won the Pulitzer Prize in May 2018, allegedly traveled to restricted and protected areas in Jammu and Kashmir without permission. He also reported from the state without valid permission.

The official warned saying: "He may be a winner of some awards, but that does not give him the license to violate Indian laws. The Ministry of External Affairs regularly informs foreign journalists about Indian rules and regulations. And in certain places, a foreigner is required to take permission. If you violate these rules and regulations, we are bound to take action."

"If somebody is denied entry, it does not mean that he is blacklisted forever. It may be reviewed after six months or one year," he said.

Another official said foreign correspondents also require prior home ministry approval to film in restricted and protected areas such as border districts, defense installations and some other places of national parks, strategic importance, and wildlife sanctuaries.

According to visa rules for foreign journalists, "A foreign journalist, TV cameraperson etc, including a foreign journalist already based in India, who desires to visit a restricted or protected area or Jammu and Kashmir or the North Eastern States, should apply for a special permit through the Ministry of External Affairs (External Publicity Division)".

Under standard circumstances, India allows foreign journalists visas for up to three months. In rare instances, a six-month journalist visa, with a single or double entry, can be issued.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs have also held discussions to review protocols on foreign journalists.

In May this year, the MEA reminded foreign journalists based in India that they require permission to travel to areas protected under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958.

The areas are - all of Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Rajasthan, parts of Jammu and Kashmir, parts of Himachal Pradesh, all of Sikkim and parts of Uttarakhand.

-Sowmya Sangam

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journalists  foreign journalists