HRDA writes to NHRC expressing concern as Kashmiri author was not allowed to travel abroad

Kashmiri Author-Journalist Gowhar Geelani was to travel to Germany for a programme

HRD Alert, a Forum of Human Rights Defenders, has written to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) expressing its grave concern about an incident in which the Kashmiri journalist-author Gowhar Geelani was stopped by the immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi on August 31, 3019.
Apart from the NHRC, HRDA also sent appeals to Jammu & Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir, DGP of Jammu & Kashmir, LT Governor of Delhi, Chief Minister of Delhi, Chief Secretary of Delhi, Commissioner of Police of Delhi, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and various organizations.

Gowhar Geelani is a respected and well acknowledged writer and journalist whose voice has potential of influencing international audience.

More recently, his book Kashmir: Reason and Rage had created ripples in several circles for its searing account of the conflict in Kashmir. The book offers fresh insights about a number of themes about Kashmiri nationalism; resistance of the new age and rebellion after the demise of militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in July, 2016.

Geelani was stopped from travelling to Germany at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport. Reportedly, he was travelling for a programme with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in Bonn. Notably, Geelani had served as an Editor for the broadcaster in the past. Immigration authorities at Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi stopped him, saying he can’t leave the country. As per a report India Today, the authorities stopped him from flying abroad due to restrictions imposed on his travel.

About the specific incident, Geelani told Scroll in an interview, “At around 9 pm, the immigration officer looked at my passport, smiled and said, “Yahan toh case hai” [There is a case here]. He took my passport and boarding pass with him and then came back with another immigration officer who identified himself as Mr Abhishek. At 9.30, Mr Abhishek said I had to come with them and they took me to a room. He only said, “Aapko pata hai dikkat hai Kashmir mein” [You know that there is a problem in Kashmir]. I agreed with him that there is a problem in Kashmir but asked him why they were stopping me. I waited in that room for another half an hour.”

“There is an attempt to stop Kashmiri voices even if they are not speaking about the government. You cannot even speak about the medical situation and emergencies happening there. It is to stop the Kashmiri pain from coming out,” he said.

He had also pointed out that another attempt is being made to stifle any voice that has potential credibility and influence internationally and regionally. “The government’s propaganda is being peddled. The state is having a free day and it is confident that it will get away with anything.

The work of the media has been shoddy,” Geelani lamented.

More recently, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha was not allowed to leave Srinagar airport even as Jammu and Kashmir faces an unprecedented lockdown. This is the 45th day of a total communication and internet blockade after the Central government abrogated the Article 370 giving the state a special status.

Since then the government has resorted to a lot of draconian measures such as the imposition of the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) on the former Chief Minister of J&K, Farooq Abdullah.

The only politician who has been able to come out in public and make a statement is the CPI (M) leader Yousuf Tarigami who said, “I am not a foreigner nor are Farooq Abdullah and other leaders are terrorists. The situation in Kashmir is bad not because of the people of Kashmir but because of all of us politicians and politics.”



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