On Mattoo’s arrival at Delhi airport on July 2 she was taken aside by immigration officials and told to wait for three hours, missing her flight to Paris. She was not given any explanation for the detainment and was later informed that she is prohibited from flying abroad.
Mattoo posted a picture to social media of her passport and ticket, stamped ‘Cancelled without prejudice’.
“Despite procuring a French visa, I was stopped at the immigration desk at Delhi airport,” Mattoo said. “I was not given any reason but told I would not be able to travel internationally.”
The Reuters photo-journalist was flying to Paris to participate in a book launch and photography exhibition as one of the 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles Grant 2020.
Mattoo is not the first journalist to be barred from travelling by Indian immigration officials. In March, Indian journalist Rana Ayyub was barred from flying to London, United Kingdom, for a program about the intimidation of journalists in India. In 2019, Kashmiri journalist Gowhar Geelani was prevented from flying to Europe from Delhi airport.
The IJU said: “The Indian Journalists Union condemns the petty and vindictive action of both the Centre and J&K administration for stopping Kashmiri photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize awardee Sana Irshad Mattoo from flying to Paris to attend a book launch and photography exhibition. This is yet another case of ongoing harassment of journalists and the Press Council of India must take suo moto cognisance.”
IFJ said: “Barring journalists from traveling internationally is systematic harassment and a grave imposition on press freedom. The IFJ condemns the travel ban against photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo and urges the Indian authorities to cease imposing restrictions on independent journalists and media workers.”