New Delhi: Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist from Kashmir, Sanna Irshad Mattoo, was allegedly stopped by immigration authorities at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport from flying to Paris Saturday.
Mattoo said she holds a valid French visa. A freelance photographer, she was scheduled to be in Paris for a book launch and photography exhibition.
While talking to ThePrint from Delhi’s IGI Airport, Mattoo said that she was stopped by officials of the immigration department after baggage check-in was completed.
“I was taken to the immigration office where I was told that I cannot travel internationally. I was taken to the office at around 10:30 am and made to sit for more than two hours before being denied travel,” she said.
When asked about the reason for denial, the photojournalist said that the officers did not mention anything specific. “They said they have received information from Kashmir,” said Mattoo.
“However, when I asked the Jammu and Kashmir Police and CID officials, they said there was nothing against me. I am still waiting at the airport for my baggage and don’t know how long it will take.”
According to a source in the security establishment, the intimation to stop the journalist was sent to immigration from intelligence agencies. The source also said that an LOC against the journalist was issued in 2020 but it is unclear if it was renewed.
‘Not given any reason’
Mattoo took to Twitter about the incident and wrote, “I was scheduled to travel from Delhi to Paris today for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles grant 2020. Despite procuring a French visa, I was stopped at the immigration desk at Delhi airport.”
She further wrote, “I was not given any reason but told I would not be able to travel internationally.”
I was scheduled to travel from Delhi to Paris today for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of 10 award winners of the Serendipity Arles grant 2020. Despite procuring a French visa, I was stopped at the immigration desk at Delhi airport. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/OoEdBBWNw6
— Sanna Irshad Mattoo (@mattoosanna) July 2, 2022
In May, Mattoo was conferred the Pulitzer Prize in the Feature Photography category for her work published by Reuters. She shared the award with the Reuters team, including late photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, Amit Dave and Adnan Abidi, for their coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in India.
In 2021, Mattoo was also awarded a fellowship at the prestigious Magnum Foundation.
A similar incident had taken place in September 2019 when journalist-author Gowhar Geelani was stopped from travelling to Bonn from Delhi without any prior information.