New Delhi, September 4, 2019 — Indian authorities should allow journalist Gowhar Geelani to travel freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On August 31, immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi stopped Geelani, a Kashmiri broadcast journalist who has frequently reported from Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir state, and told him he was not allowed to travel to Germany, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke with CPJ.
Officials told Geelani that the Jammu and Kashmir state government had “flagged the issue” of his travel, but declined to give him any more details on why he was barred from leaving the country, he told CPJ. Geelani said he has a valid passport and visa, and he told digital news outlet Scroll that the immigration officers said there was no issue with his documentation.
“There is no reason why Gowhar Geelani, who had all the right travel documents, should have been prevented from traveling abroad,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher. “Indian authorities should immediately cease all forms of harassment and intimidation against journalists covering the situation in Kashmir.”
Geelani was planning to fly to Germany to attend a journalist training program as a prerequisite to joining German broadcast agency Deutsche Welle’s Delhi bureau, he told CPJ. He previously worked as an editor with the agency in Germany, and has recently worked as an independent journalist and commentator based in Srinagar, he said.
Last month, Geelani published Kashmir: Rage and Reason, a book on the Kashmir conflict and its history.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the country’s immigration authorities, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment via email.
For the past month, there has been a political crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, with an ongoing communications blackout and reports of journalist detentions, as CPJ has documented.