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Foreign journalists barred from entering Arunachal
GUWAHATI, NOV 6 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 7 Nov. 2009 12:12 AM IST
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The foreign correspondents Club of South Asia has alleged that the foreign journalists trying to cover the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang have been barred from entering Arunachal Pradesh and at least three journalists were sent back from Guwahati last night. The Arunachal Pradesh government, however, denied that foreign journalists were specifically targetted or banned. An official source from the Arunachal Pradesh Bhawan said some Restricted Area Permits (RAP) issued to some foreigners were withdrawn and five of them were turned back yesterday. “If there were a couple of journalists amongst them, I am afraid we are not aware of it. But there are no specific rules against them,’’ said the source from Arunachal Pradesh. However, the aggrieved journalists said the Central government had informed foreign correspondents they would not be permitted to enter the Northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh while the Dalai Lama is there. The Tibetan spiritual leader begins a five-day visit to a border area monastery in the state on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia issued a statement on Thursday expressing its “disappointment’’ with the Indian government’s travel restrictions. Club president Heather Timmons, of the New York Times, alleged that the Central government did not issue any permits for journalists to visit Arunachal Pradesh for the Dalai Lama’s visit, but the state government had granted permission. “Today, we were surprised and very disappointed to learn that permits that were issued by the state government to travel to the state during the visit have been canceled by the Central government,’’ she said. A number of reporters from American, British and other international media, including the Voice of America, intended to cover the visit in the remote region. The travel restrictions apparently do not apply to Indian journalists. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs said the decision on which of the foreign correspondents could travel to Arunachal Pradesh was to be taken by the External Affairs Ministry. Ms Timmons, on behalf of the foreign media, met officials of the Ministry of External Affairs who told her they were doing “everything they possibly could’’ regarding the travel requests.

 
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