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US journalist barred from India

On 13 August 1997, Indian immigration authorities refused to allow Martin Sugarman, an independent United States (US) photographer and filmmaker, to enter India for the purpose of reporting in the Kashmir Valley. Sugarman arrived in New Delhi on a flight from London, United Kingdom shortly before midnight on 12 August. He had been issued a visa on 16 July by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, US. His passport was seized and then he was detained and questioned by immigration and security authorities at the airport for several hours before being placed on a plane back to London, Sugarman said. "They held me at immigration and asked me if I was a journalist and if I had ever been to Kashmir. Of course, they knew all about my work already," he said. His passport was returned when he boarded a flight back to London.

Sugarman is the author of the 1993 book "Kashmir: Paradise Lost", a collection of photographs of life in the Kashmir Valley. He is an outspoken critic of the Indian military, which has stationed nearly half a million troops in Kashmir to put down an independence movement that is backed by Pakistan. Sugarman said he told the immigration authorities in New Delhi that he intended to return to Kashmir to update his earlier research.

In recent years, both local and foreign journalists have sometimes found it difficult to gain access to Kashmir because they need to deal with both Indian military and separatist forces. Indian authorities have engaged in sporadic censorship and local journalists have been intimidated and harassed. In a recent letter sent to India's Prime Minister, CPJ noted four recent incidents of beatings and harassment of local journalists in Kashmir (see IFEX alerts of 11 August and 3 July 1997).

Date posted: August 18, 1997 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1360