The Central government has issued an “advisory” for foreign correspondents working in India, asking them not to visit Jammu and Kashmir without prior permission.
According to the reports the advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs is to remind the foreign journalists of a “dormant rule” that prohibits them from traveling to certain areas, including parts of Jammu and Kashmir, without permission of the government.
A letter, quoted by several reports, dated 22 May 2018 by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) reading, “It has come to the notice of MEA that some foreign journalists based in India, while discharging their journalistic activities or travelling or for tourism purposes have travelled to places which come under restricted/protected areas that require prior permission/special permit. (sic)
“Travel to these protected/restricted areas without prior approval/special permission may cause unnecessary access related issues resulting in inconvenience for the journalists,” it read.
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The government has also asked the foreign correspondents to provide “advance information, in requisite format” to the ministry before their visit since that will help it in “facilitating/arranging special permit from relevant agencies, where it is required”.
In past, several incidents have happened in which foreign academics or journalists have been barred from entering Kashmir, including a prominent American broadcaster David Barsamian. Last year, Comiti Paul Edward, a French journalist and filmmaker, was arrested in Srinagar for violating visa norms. He released only after the French embassy and various global organizations intervened.
According to India’s Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have been declared as “protected areas”.