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Not permitted to report from Kashmir, Washington Post journalist questions GoI’s restrictions

Srinagar, July 31: The Washington Post’s India Bureau Chief, Annie Gowen, on Tuesday questioned the restrictions imposed by government of India on foreign journalists reporting from Kashmir.

Ministry of External Affairs, as per media reports last month, informed the foreign nationals that they required permission to travel to areas protected under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958.

It listed “parts of J&K” among other “protected areas”, stating that travelling to these areas “without prior approval may cause unnecessary access related issues resulting in inconvenience for the journalists”.

It also asked the foreign journos to provide “advance information, in requisite format” to the ministry.

Facing difficulties to visit Kashmir even for a casual visit, Annie, questioned the dictum in a thread of tweets on her official Twitter handle.

“I am in Kashmir for a day to attend a friend’s wedding. I am not reporting here because @MEAIndia and @HMOIndia have not granted the special permit now required for foreign correspondents. I applied June 22. Unacceptable delay,” she tweeted.

“We followed a Kashmiri pellet victim for a year in 2017. Could not do that type of reporting now if constantly need a ‘permit’ for Kashmir from MEA India,” she wrote, while sharing the hyperlink to an in-depth story The Washington Post did on a 16-year old Kashmiri pellet victim in December, 2017.

In another tweet, she wrote that the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia (FCC South Asia) was meeting with Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday to discuss the restrictions on reporting in Kashmir.

“The @FCCNewDelhi is meeting with @MEAIndia to discuss the restrictions on reporting in Kashmir for foreign correspondents tomorrow I’m told,” her tweet read.

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reacted to Annie’s tweets with: Has the situation in Kashmir deteriorated to such an extent that we are now afraid to let foreign correspondents report freely from Kashmir? Another crowning achievement of BJP’s Kashmir policy ably assisted by its partners in crime the PDP.

A Twitter user Arvind Dhar, who profile read he was a “Kashmiri Pandit Refugee”, called Annie “fit case for deportation.”

“fit case for deportation @HMOIndia  i think no one can dictate Indian state…..”

To which she replied: I’m not sure why they would deport me, when I am taking pains to follow their new enforcement rules regarding reporting in Kashmir.