External Affairs

Foreign Journalists' Presence in Kashmir Could 'Incentivise' Display of Stir, Says Jaishankar

"We don't want their presence to provoke problems – from people who would take advantage of it to show that there is unrest,” said the external affairs minister.

New Delhi: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar has told the French publication, Le Monde, that India was not allowing foreign journalists to visit and report on the government’s clampdown on Kashmir because their very presence in the Valley could incentivise some Kashmiris to display their agitation.

Jaishankar made these comments in Paris, at the Paris Forum on Peace 2019.

“I can’t commit to a deadline, but as soon as it is safe, they can go. We don’t want their presence to provoke problems – from people who would take advantage of it to show that there is unrest,” he told Le Monde.

Also read: ‘We Try to Emulate Modi’: Jaishankar Defends J&K Move, Dismisses Foreign Concerns

The MEA had been considering imposing restrictions on foreign journalists since May 2018.

In December 2016 as well, the MEA has imposed restrictions for foreign reporters in working in Kashmir after the killing of militant Burhan Wani. These restrictions did not generate as many protests until the government’s decision to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories on August 5 this year led to the region coming under global spotlight.

In the early days of the insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s too, the Indian government had made it difficult for foreign journalists to visit the state and report on the conflict.

In July last year, the foreign ministry had informed foreign correspondents based in India that to visit Kashmir, they would need to apply eight weeks in advance to get a clearance from the home ministry.

Sources within the MEA told The Wire that there was in place a longstanding policy which regulated the entry of foreign journalists in areas designated as “restricted and protected areas”. The sources said that such restrictions weren’t new at all.

Also read: Journalists Protest as Internet Gag Completes 100 Days in Valley

Last year, a government communication to foreign reporters listed out some of these protected and restricted areas. It included parts but not the entire states of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. To visit any part of the states of Sikkim and Nagaland, however, would need permission.