Kashmiri journalist Gowhar Geelani on Saturday claimed that authorities at the Delhi airport stopped him from travelling abroad for a journalists’ conference, The Indian Express reported.
“I had checked in, and at the Immigration was asked by the staff to accompany them to a room, where an officer, who identified himself as Abhishek, told me that they have instructions not to allow me to leave the country,” he told the newspaper.
Geelani said he was travelling to Germany to attend an eight-day training programme for journalists organised by media organisation Deutsche Welle. He has worked with DW earlier and said he had joined it as an editor again.
Geelani said he asked an officer to show him a written order. “But the officer said he cannot share any written order or explanation with me,” Geelani was quoted as saying. “He told me it is because of the current situation in Kashmir, and he was following orders from higher-ups.”
Unidentified officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport told The Indian Express that Geelani was detained based on a request by the Intelligence Bureau. An official said: “As of now, he is with Immigration officials. Intelligence agencies have been informed, they will question him further.”
Geelani has been critical about the Centre’s decision to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution last month.
Last month, Kashmiri bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal was detained at Indira Gandhi International Airport and sent back to Kashmir, where he was held again at a makeshift detention centre at a hotel in Srinagar. He had moved the Delhi High Court against his detention.
On August 5, the government decided to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split it into two Union Territories. The Lok Sabha passed the proposals on August 6. Several leaders were also either put under house arrest or detained. The move drew stiff criticism from Opposition leaders, who have also been stopped, on multiple occasions, from visiting the state to assess the ground situation.
While authorities have claimed they are working on restoring communication lines gradually, sporadic protests in the Valley have slowed down the process. Reports suggest that authorities have used excessive force against protestors, with tear-gas shells and pellet guns being fired.
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