Sunday, January 11, 2015

Greenpeace campaigner barred from going abroad, her passport "offloaded" on orders from India govt

Priya Pillai during a campaign in Delhi 
By Our Representative
Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with top international environmental body Greenpeace's India branch, was stopped at New Delhi airport this morning by the immigration office and denied to get onboard her flight to London. Pillai was stopped at immigration and her passport was stamped with ‘offloaded’. Calling it “yet another attempt to muzzle Greenpeace India”, the top NGO said, “This is a clear and blatant violation of her rights, especially because she has a valid business visa to visit London.”
The incident took place, ironically, when UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon validated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's to usher in a new era of environmental friendly technology for producing power through solar energy. Ki-moon inaugurated Narmada-canal top solar power project in Gujarat after his keynote address at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar.
British MPs had invited Pillai to talk about people-powered movements with the local communities in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh. “A proposed coal mining project led by Essar, a London-based company threatens to uproot the lives and livelihoods of the forest and the community which lives there”, Greenpeace said in its statement.
Pillai was scheduled to address British Parliamentarians on the rights of forest communities being infringed for coal mining in India. “Has working for the most marginalised people in the country become an offence in India?” Pillai was quoted as saying.
Pillai was informed by the airport authorities that she is now “banned from leaving India, even though she has no criminal convictions against her”, Greenpeace said, adding, “The immigration officials told her they are not opposed to her travelling, but they are just following orders from the Indian government.”
The statement contended, “It appears working for grassroots movements in India has been met with unwanted and shocking consequences. This is the second time a Greenpeace employee has been denied a go ahead by the Indian airport authorities in spite of having a valid visa. In September last year, Greenpeace campaigner, Ben Hargreaves – a UK national - was refused entry to India, despite having a valid visa.”
Greenpeace India’s Executive Director,Samit Aich said, “The government’s intentions are clear- they are trying to intimidate and bully Greenpeace and its employees. We will not shy away from asking tough questions to the highest authorities. Such systematic excesses by the government are a shame and cause of worry for the Indian civil society.”
He added, “At a time when the whole world is making a strong pitch to safeguard freedom of speech and democratic rights, this action by the world’s largest democracy is problematic”.
Greenpeace India has written to the Ministry of Home and External Affairs and to the Airport Authority of India following this arbitrary action of stopping its employees in spite of having the appropriate paper work. Greenpeace is asking the government to explain the legal basis for the ban on Pillai leaving the country.
Last year the Ministry of Home Affairs had directed the freezing of Greenpeace India’s foreign funds. Greenpeace India has challenged this in the Delhi High Court and the next hearing is on January 20. “It is appalling that in the world’s largest democracy, a people powered, independently funded non-profit organisation like Greenpeace India has been at the receiving end unwanted actions”, Greenpeace said.

1 comment:

Pastor Nehru said...

Good job by Indian Govt to stop these anti-national NGO beggars.

She is more sad for not able to enjoy a trip to London.