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Pulitzer-winning Kashmiri photojournalist stopped from traveling to New York

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Oct 19, 2022 - 10:32 AM

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – Indian immigration authorities on Tuesday stopped Kashmiri photojournalist Sana Irshad Mattoo from traveling to New York, where she was scheduled to receive a Pulitzer Prize for photography.

“I was on my way to receive the Pulitzer award (@Pulitzerprizes) in New York but I was stopped at immigration at Delhi airport and barred from traveling internationally despite holding a valid US visa and ticket,” Mattoo tweeted.

“This is the second time I have been stopped without reason or cause. Despite reaching out to several officials after what happened a few months ago but I never received any response. Being able to attend the award ceremony was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” she added.

On July 2, she was scheduled to travel from New Delhi to Paris for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles Grant 2020. Mattoo was stopped at immigration and her boarding pass was stamped “canceled without prejudice.”

A resident of Srinagar, the 28-year-old works as a photojournalist for the international wire agency Reuters. She won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in feature photography along with three other Reuters photographers for their coverage of the COVID pandemic in India.

Like Mattoo, independent Kashmiri journalist Aakash Hassan was on July 26 stopped by immigration authorities at New Delhi airport from traveling to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, where he was to cover the country’s economic crisis. His boarding pass was also stamped “canceled without prejudice.” He had told the media that officials made him wait for five hours and quizzed him before telling him he couldn’t travel.

Media reports said Mattoo had been placed on a no-fly list which has the names of people who are barred from international travel.

Sikh parliamentarian prevented from entering Kashmir

Earlier in the day, Simranjit Singh Mann, a Sikh member of India’s parliament, wrote on his Twitter account that police stopped him from entering Kashmir “without assigning any reason.”

“I have a Constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer, which isn’t being allowed. Union Home Minister Mr. (Amit) Shah says there is complete peace in J&K. Thus I see no reason to prevent the entry of a peaceful delegation, visiting and enquiring upon the people of J&K. Our Party is against such tyranny and special powers given to the army to kill, molest, kidnap, murder and detain any Kashmiri with impunity,” Mann tweeted.

Mann is a votary of “Khalistan,” an independent state for Sikhs of India.

He was stopped at the border between Jammu and Kashmir and his native place, the Indian state of Punjab.

Rahul Pandey, a magistrate who had issued orders stopping Mann’s entry, said “his visit was likely to cause disturbance in public tranquility.”

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – including two over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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