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French journalist Sebastien Farcis claims 'forced to leave India' after permit renewal denies; read statement

French journalist Sebastien Farcis asserted on Thursday that the Ministry of Home Affairs of India had denied renewal of his permit, compelling him to depart the country and barring him from reporting on the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

French journalist Sebastien Farcis claims 'forced to leave India' after permit renewal denies; read statement snt
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First Published Jun 20, 2024, 6:38 PM IST

French journalist Sebastien Farcis asserted on Thursday that the Ministry of Home Affairs of India had denied renewal of his permit, compelling him to depart the country and barring him from reporting on the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. This marks the second instance in four months where a French journalist has raised such concerns.

“On 17th June, I was forced to leave India, a country where I had lived and worked as a journalist for 13 years, as a South Asia correspondent for Radio France Internationale, Radio France, Liberation and the Swiss and Belgian public radios,” Farcis posted on X on Thursday.

According to Farcis, he received notification from the MHA on March 7th informing him of the decision to deny his coverage of the general elections and decline renewal of his journalist's permit.

“This appeared to me as an incomprehensible censorship,” he wrote, stating that he had been working in India as a journalist since 2011 and had obtained all the necessary visas and accreditations. “I have…never worked in restricted or protected areas without a permit. On several occasions, the MHA even granted me permits to report from border areas,” he said in a statement.

“This denial comes as a worrying context of increasing restrictions on the work of foreign journalists: after Vanessa Dougnac, I am the second French journalist in four months to have to leave India under these conditions. At least five OCI foreign correspondents have been banned from working as journalists in less than two years,” he added.

After 23 years of journalistic work in India, Dougnac reportedly faced a directive to leave on February 16. According to an Outlook report, she was married to an Indian man and had a son. Allegedly, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sent her a notice in January, accusing her of writing "malicious" articles that undermined "the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India." She stated that the notice required her to justify why her OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card should not be revoked.

According to a February article in Article 14, the NDA government revoked at least 102 OCI cards between 2014 and May 2023.

OCI status, established in 2005 under the Citizenship Act of 1955, allows foreign citizens of Indian origin or foreigners married to Indian citizens to enter India without a visa. It also permits them to reside, work, and own property in India.

The MHA has not responded to Sebastien Farcis' allegations as of now.

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