Outrage as another Kashmiri journalist stopped from flying abroad | Freedom of the Press News

One more Kashmiri journalist has been stopped by the Indian authorities from flying overseas as outrage grows over a seamless clampdown on press freedom in Indian-administered Kashmir and its residents.

Impartial journalist Aakash Hassan, 25, was on his solution to Sri Lanka for a reporting task final week when immigration officers at New Delhi airport barred him from boarding the flight, making him the fourth Kashmiri journalist in a few 12 months to face the motion.

“I acquired my boarding cross and after I was on the immigration, I used to be instructed to attend on the aspect,” Hassan instructed Al Jazeera.

“Then I used to be taken to a room and interrogated by two individuals who didn’t establish themselves. They requested me what sort of journalism I do. They requested about my background,” he mentioned.

Hassan mentioned the interrogation continued for 5 hours.

“My passport and boarding cross had been stamped with ‘Stopped with out prejudice’ and my baggage was offloaded,” mentioned Hassan, who additionally shared footage of the stamping on Twitter.

The immigration officers, Hassan mentioned, didn’t present any justification for why he was stopped.

“They mentioned there was a lookout round issued on my identify however they denied disclosing which company had issued it,” he mentioned.

A lookout round is issued by India’s legislation enforcement companies to cease a person – both absconding or wished – from leaving the nation. It’s largely used at immigration checkpoints at worldwide airports.

Kashmir Press Club building is pictured through a closed gate
The Kashmir Press Membership in Srinagar was sealed by Indian authorities earlier this 12 months [File: Dar Yasin/AP]

‘Focused for our work’

Hassan mentioned there is no such thing as a legal case towards him.

“The worst factor is I don’t know who I ought to strategy. That is going to take a psychological toll on me. We’re being focused for our work,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

“It will jeopardise my future.”

Kashmiri journalists say issuing of lookout circulars towards them and stopping them from worldwide journey is a brand new development.

Final month, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo was prevented from flying to Paris for a photograph exhibition.

“I used to be shocked and heartbroken,” the 28-year-old then instructed Al Jazeera, including that she, like Hassan, didn’t have a legal case towards her.

Mattoo, a contributor to the Reuters information company, was a part of a four-member group of photojournalists that received the Pulitzer final 12 months for his or her protection of the COVID-19 disaster in India.

Final 12 months, two different Kashmiri journalists – Zahid Rafiq and Ruwa Shah – had been barred from flying overseas.

In 2019, impartial journalist Gowhar Geelani was stopped at New Delhi airport when he was on his solution to Germany to hitch a job.

There have been comparable examples from outdoors Kashmir as properly.

In April this 12 months, Aakar Patel, former head of Amnesty Worldwide in India, mentioned he was stopped from flying to america due to a legal case filed towards the rights physique. Authorities mentioned Patel was on a “lookout round” issued by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation.

Days earlier than that, distinguished Indian journalist Rana Ayyub was additionally stopped from boarding a flight to London the place she was scheduled to deal with a press occasion. She was allowed to fly 5 days later after she approached a courtroom of legislation.

Some Kashmiris allege their passports weren’t being renewed by the Indian authorities.

“The passport verification course of has been pending for greater than six months,” a 30-year-old Kashmiri journalist who didn’t need to be recognized instructed Al Jazeera.

‘Systematic sample of harassment’

Kashmiri teachers and journalists finding out or working overseas say they concern visiting dwelling over the danger of being barred from flying again.

“They [authorities] have used all types of means to harass journalists, questioning them, harassing households, arrests and now stopping them from going out of India is a brand new problem,” Kashmiri journalist Ahmad who didn’t need to be recognized by his first identify instructed Al Jazeera.

“With every day, doing journalism in Kashmir is turning into inconceivable … Journalism in Kashmir is nearly lifeless,” he added.

Al Jazeera reached out to a number of authorities officers in Kashmir for his or her feedback on the problem. One official, talking on the situation of anonymity, justified the restrictions on Kashmiri journalists.

“It [the lookout circular] is being issued solely towards these people who peddle a sustained insidious narrative towards the [Indian] state. They [journalists] are a part of the ‘terror ecosystem’ and the state is inside its rights to subject lookout circulars towards such individuals,” he mentioned.

After India’s Hindu nationalist authorities stripped Kashmir of its restricted autonomy in 2019, the disputed area has witnessed a collection of crackdowns towards journalists and media organisations.

In January this 12 months, the Kashmir Press Membership – the biggest impartial media physique within the area – was dissolved by the federal government. Kashmiri journalists complain of being routinely summoned to police stations and interrogated about their work.

Journalist Aasif Sultan in handcuffs on his way to judicial custody
Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan has been in jail for practically 4 years [File: Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Some journalists have been booked underneath stringent legal guidelines, together with the Illegal Actions Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Public Security Act (PSA), which permit lengthy detention of an individual with out trial.

India is ranked a hundred and fiftieth within the World Press Freedom Index 2022, down from 142 the earlier 12 months and at the moment under Hong Kong and Turkey.

“The journey bans are a part of a scientific sample of harassment towards Kashmiri journalists, who’ve more and more confronted arbitrary arrest, frivolous authorized circumstances, threats, bodily assaults, and raids since August 2019,” media watchdog the Committee to Shield Journalists (CPJ) tweeted final month.

Referring to Hassan’s case, CPJ mentioned, “Overseas governments should deal with arbitrary journey restrictions on Kashmiri journalists as severe violations of human rights in any engagement with the Indian authorities.”

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, instructed Al Jazeera “arbitrary restrictions” on Kashmiri journalists travelling overseas had been “extraordinarily regarding” and violated their livelihood and freedom of motion.

Geeta Seshu, co-founder of the Free Speech Collective, an impartial organisation that advocates press freedom in India, mentioned “persevering with harassment and intimidation” of Kashmiri journalists by stopping them from flying overseas “smacks of discrimination”.

“It is usually disturbing because it seeks to ship a message to impartial journalists that their proper of free entry and mobility is incumbent on their obedience and acquiescence to the powers that be,” she instructed Al Jazeera.

“That is undemocratic and violates their basic proper to free expression. So many journalists from India have travelled to numerous bother spots, together with Sri Lanka, with out being stopped or curbed in any approach.”

For Russians, flying abroad is a difficult, costly affair | Aviation

When Russian tutorial Mishaa determined in March to flee his nation amid rumours of martial regulation, his choices had been restricted and costly.

Lower off from Europe because of the European Union’s ban on Russian plane, Mishaa, who comes from the central Russian metropolis of Yekaterinburg, regarded additional east, the place many former Soviet republics supply Russians visa-free entry.

“I booked a flight to Armenia as a result of I’ve many Armenian buddies, I used to be certain there’d be a group right here, and also you don’t want a visa,” Mishaa advised Al Jazeera, who requested to make use of a  pseudonym. “Armenians typically suppose positively of Russians; there’s much less historic tensions than with Georgia, for example.”

Mishaa paid 40,000 roubles ($599), excess of typical, for his one-way flight to the Armenian capital Yerevan, a visit of lower than 4 hours.

“After I purchased tickets Russia was nonetheless in SWIFT, so I may nonetheless use my regular financial institution playing cards. The worth was large – I paid round 40,000 rubles [$599] for a one-way journey,” he stated. “That’s nonsense, one thing I’d by no means have carried out in peacetime. Not everybody may truly ebook flights at that worth – not everybody has spare money or a gentle job – so it’s additionally a query of a sure privilege.”

Now working remotely from Yerevan, Mishaa transfers his wages to Armenia utilizing cryptocurrency, however for essentially the most half, survives on the money he managed to take earlier than he left.

INTERACTIVE International flights from Russia

Since Russia launched its warfare on Ukraine, worldwide journey for Russians has turn into costly, tough and patchy.

Russian aircraft have been banned from European and North American airspace, whereas the nation’s Boeing and Airbus plane face the specter of repossession by Western leasing corporations in the event that they go away the nation.

“The Russian airways had been pressured to ‘steal’ them by the Russian authorities,” stated Viktor Berta, vice chairman of aviation finance at ACC Aviation in London.

AerCap, the world’s largest leasing agency primarily based in Dublin, Eire, has filed a $3.5bn insurance coverage declare for greater than 100 of its jets stranded in Russia, which account for about 5 % of its leased plane by worth.

Domhnal Slattery, chief government of the Dublin-headquartered plane leasing firm Avolon, stated in a quarterly monetary assertion that his firm was in a position to repossess 4 plane earlier this 12 months and can make each effort to recuperate 10 extra nonetheless in Russia. In the meantime, the corporate acknowledged a $304m loss to put in writing right down to zero the worth of 10 plane that it would by no means get again.

Even so, Russian airways have been slowly clawing their means again into worldwide operations to nations that may settle for flights.

Worldwide flights originating in Russia dropped from 1,126 per week when the warfare in Ukraine started on February 24 to 181 two weeks later, in keeping with FlightRadar24. By the final week in April, worldwide flights recovered to 379 for the week. Of those, 103 had been to Turkey, with many of the the rest to a half-dozen former Soviet republics, together with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

INTERACTIVE Where are Russians flying to?

Russian-built Superjets are utilizing Sochi as a hub for departures to locations together with Turkey, Egypt and Israel regularly, in keeping with FlightRadar24.

The five hundred or so Western-built plane leased by Russian airways are largely not leaving the nation as a result of they may very well be repossessed by Western firms that personal them, a Russian aviation knowledgeable advised Al Jazeera, talking on situation of anonymity.

Nonetheless, the knowledgeable stated that Russian airways personal some western plane outright and likewise paid off the loans on some others to allow them to be utilized in service exterior of Russia. Russian airways may additionally resort to grounding plane to reap spare elements to maintain different plane flying, he stated.

Some older mannequin Airbus A320s and Boeing 737-800s are being utilized in worldwide service, in keeping with FlightRadar24, regardless that Boeing and Airbus are not offering spare elements for plane primarily based in Russia. Boeing and Airbus have additionally halted plane deliveries to Russia. Nonetheless, Russia’s Aeroflot has managed to maintain some Boeing A330s within the air and, earlier this month, introduced the resumption of normal flights to New Delhi, which has maintained heat relations with Moscow.

Marina, a 25-year-old IT skilled from Moscow with a ardour for journey, has managed to fly to Sri Lanka, Greece, Cyprus and the UK because the begin of the battle, though it has been removed from simple.

Marina, who requested to make use of a pseudonym, had deliberate to go to Sri Lanka together with her boyfriend on February 25, the day after Russia launched its invasion.

“At first we didn’t perceive, however as soon as we understood, we determined to go anyway, so if issues received actually unhealthy, we’ll keep there,” she advised Al Jazeera.

Boeing plane
Boeing and Airbus, the 2 largest suppliers of plane for Russian airways, have ceased operations in Russia
[File: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg]

Whereas in Sri Lanka, Marina and her accomplice determined to maneuver to Cyprus, which might require them to journey by way of Moscow.

Marina and her accomplice booked tickets to Cyprus, by way of Bulgaria and Greece, on the identical day Russia was kicked out of the SWIFT worldwide funds system, rendering their financial institution playing cards virtually ineffective. After turning to a pal at a financial institution that had not been sanctioned for assist, the couple managed to withdraw a part of their financial savings. Since then, they’ve been carrying round hundreds of {dollars} in money.

“On the Greek border, they requested us intimately about the place we’d stay and the way lengthy we’d keep,” she stated.

“In Athens itself, there have been no explicit issues, apart from the impossibility of paying by card and strolling with ten thousand bucks in your pocket within the dodgy neighbourhood the place we had been staying, which was not enjoyable.”

Mike Stengel of AeroDynamic Advisory, an aerospace trade administration consulting agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, stated Russia’s aviation trade may find yourself just like the one in Iran, “which has been in a position to keep a fleet of Western-built plane utilizing some back-end measures to maintain them flying”.

“Russia has a commercially profitable aerospace trade that also employs a whole lot of hundreds of individuals,” Stengel advised Al Jazeera.

“It has produced plane up to now, so there’s a historical past and infrastructure for designing and producing plane engines and plane elements. It received’t be good and it could most likely end in protecting a skeleton fleet of kinds, however they’ve lots of the instruments wanted to make it work to maintain western-built plane flying for many years.”

For Russians like Mishaa, who’s against the warfare in Ukraine, the nation’s worldwide isolation is without delay comprehensible and troubling.

“The isolation was anticipated. What did they need? That every one the European group will react modestly? I by no means believed that,” he stated.

“I feel that sanctions are honest normally, however in fact I care concerning the financial circumstances in my dwelling nation: how my dad and mom will stay there, my brother, my household. In fact sanctions will hit all of society, but it surely’s a kleptocratic, oligarchical mafia state, and the poor will endure extra.”