Press Trust of india

 Kashmiri journalist stopped from flying to Sri Lanka

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PDP, NC condemn official action

New Delhi:  Immigration authorities at the airport here stopped yet another Kashmiri journalist from travelling abroad, citing restrictions imposed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, officials said on Wednesday.

Akash Hassan, who hails from Anantnag district of south Kashmir, was on his way to Sri Lanka on Tuesday evening when his boarding pass was cancelled and he was offloaded from the aircraft.

Hassan is the second Kashmiri journalist barred from travelling abroad this month. On July 02, Pulitzer-winning Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo was stopped when she was on her way to Paris to attend a book launch event and participate in a photography exhibition.

Hassan informed on his unverified Twitter handle that immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport had barred him from boarding his flight to Colombo.

“I was headed to report on the current crises in the country,” Hassan, who writes for the UK-based ‘The Guardian’ newspaper, said.

He said immigration officials took his passport, boarding pass and made him sit in a room for nearly four hours before an airline official informed him that his luggage had been offloaded on directions from the department.

“I was questioned by two officials about my background, travel purpose,” Hassan said, adding after nearly five hours, he was handed his passport and boarding pass with a red rejection stamp that read “cancelled without prejudice”.

Hassan, whose father is a teacher, completed his post-graduation from Turkey.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said stopping Hassan from travelling abroad came at a time when Chief Justice of India N V Ramana stated that independent journalism was the backbone of democracy.

“It’s no secret that GOI wants to crush the very backbone and fourth pillar of our democracy because of its intolerance to the truth,” she said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Wednesday condemned the barring of Journalist Akash Hassan from travelling abroad, saying the measure infringes upon fundamental right to freedom of movement.

Denouncing the measure of not allowing Akash Hassan from traveling to Sri Lanka to report the ground situation, NC Chief Spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said, “There is no  justification to this action of stopping Aakash Hassan from performing his duties. Our party stands firmly behind journalists including Aakash who are doing their jobs in current circumstances. Earlier Sanna Irshad Mattoo, a Pulitzer-winning photojournalist was also prevented from flying abroad. The curbs on the free movement of our journalists is yet another step towards disabling the working environment of the media and press fraternity. I on behalf of my party, and myself condemn and demand that the journalists be allowed to do their work in a free and fair manner,” he said.

Officials in the Jammu and Kashmir Police confirmed that Hassan had been placed on a no-fly list.

Earlier, some Kashmir journalists, activists and academicians were stopped at the airport too.

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