Sanna Irshad Mattoo, who was part of a team of journalists who won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, said she was not given any reason for not being allowed to travel internationally.

Journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo, who was stopped from flying to Paris Instagram/sanna.irshad.mattoo
news Media Sunday, July 03, 2022 - 09:35

A Pulitzer-winning photojournalist was on Saturday, July 2, stopped from flying abroad by immigration authorities at the airport in Delhi who cited restrictions imposed on her by the Jammu and Kashmir police. Sanna Irshad Mattoo was on her way to Paris to attend a book launch event and participate in a photography exhibition when she was stopped by immigration authorities at the Delhi airport. "Whatever happened today was totally unexpected," Mattoo told PTI. In a tweet, she said, "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."

Mattoo, who is a freelance photographer, won the Pulitzer Prize in May 2022 in the Feature Photography category. She was part of a team of journalists whose work was published by Reuters, who won the award for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The team also included the late Danish Siddiqui, Amit Dave and Adnan Abidi. "I was not given any reason but told I would not be able to travel internationally," Mattoo tweeted. 

Karti Chidambaram, son of former union minister P Chidambaram, was among those who reacted on social media. "Indiscriminate use of LOC (lookout circular). A tool to harass all critics of this regime," he said. The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) expressed solidarity with Mattoo and said, “We demand to know why Sanna was stopped from travelling. We also note with concern that the move comes at a time when the government has been coming down heavily on those whose work has exposed uncomfortable truths about the present political situation in India.”

Mattoo alleged the immigration authorities did not give her any reason for stopping her from flying except to say that she could not travel abroad as there were restrictions. According to PTI, officials in the Jammu and Kashmir police confirmed that Mattoo had been placed on a no-fly list. 

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