• The Indian government refused to grant a visa to journalist Hasnain Kazim of the German weekly ‘Der Spiegel’, ostensibly because he covered the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai without a journalist’s visa.
Courtesy Hasnai Kazim
According to Kazim, he was due to visit India on holiday in December 2008 and had been granted a journalist’s visa with a “no reporting allowed” clause (all journalists visiting India on holiday are tracked in this manner). When the terror attack started, he decided to fly to India sooner and requested to have his visa changed at the Indian consulate in Hamburg. “I was told that I could report with the visa I had and that I should ‘go tell the world what’s happening in India’. But it’s entirely my fault that I didn’t get this in writing,” Kazim says over the phone from Pakistan.
When contacted for comment, a government official who did not wish to be named said Kazim’s case was purely one of visa violation, something that no government would tolerate.
• French photojournalist Viviane Dalles quit her job at the archives of the ‘Magnum’ agency in Paris to come to Tamil Nadu following the tsunami in early 2005. Recognizing the potential of documentary photography, after two years she decided to stay on in the country and applied for a journalist’s visa. She was granted a one-year journalist visa. She did stories for the French papers ‘Le Monde’ and ‘Le Figaro’ and worked on stories about Tibetan refugees and the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, among other projects.
In July 2008, Dalles was refused entry back into the country after a month-long holiday in France (her journalist visa hadn’t expired at this time). Before her holiday, she had made a trip to the north of Assam to document the activities of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. When she arrived at Delhi airport, Dalles was asked to buy a ticket back to Paris. She has been unable to return to India since. A few months ago, her application for a tourist visa to fetch her belongings, which were still in India, was turned down. “I love India and I hate India. This country keeps me fascinated,” says Dalles, who is really keen on returning to India.
When contacted for comment, a government official said the decision to disallow Dalles from returning to the country was a “considered one”.
• According to information made available by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Swedish freelance journalist Ulrika Nandra’s problems began in autumn 2007 when she was about to make a second visit to India as a freelance journalist. She submitted a visa application in September, but more than one year later she had still received no response. Representatives of the media for which Nandra worked, state-run ‘Sveriges Television’ and daily newspaper ‘Svenska Dagbladet’, held a meeting with the Indian embassy in February 2008 in which the embassy said they were displeased with her reports, including one about sex trafficking in Mumbai and a series of articles about changing gender roles in India.
Reliable sources have told Nandra, who is half-Indian, that it is uncertain that she will ever be able to return to the country, even on a tourist visa. Apart from working in India as a journalist, Nandra also has relatives here, making the visa rejection a strong personal blow.