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India Bans US Professor from Kashmir, threatens Indian writer with sedition charges: JKCCS

November 2, 2010

A note from JAMMU KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY

November 2, 2010

On November 1, 2010, shortly after 5.10 am, Professor Richard Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Richard Shapiro is the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also the life partner/husband of Angana Chatterji, who is the Co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and also Professor of Anthropology at CIIS.

Richard Shapiro, a US Citizen, has been accompanying Angana Chatterji, a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US, to India since 1997, and has travelled here approximately thirty times. His area of work is not India or Kashmir, but focuses primarily on issues of race, class, gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity. He is not someone who has made India a “career,” but invested in thinking and learning through the various struggles that Angana has been a part of across India.

Since July 2006, Richard regularly travelled to Kashmir, and interacted with various human rights defenders, scholars, youth, to bear witness and learn from their experiences. He has been conscientious in not violating the conditions of his tourist visa. He has not participated in formal conferences, and has not conducted any applied research in Kashmir or in India. He also helped form a Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle. Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed in 2009 and another in September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles and newspaper reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by him. Any scholar can do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond the control of states and their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices they perpetrate.

This Monday, Richard Shapiro had travelled a long way from San Francisco to be with Angana Chatterji, who was traveling to Kashmir for work, to think and learn. When he first presented his passport to the Immigration Authorities, he was stamped an entry permit. Then, they started processing Angana Chatterji’s passport. She has been stopped regularly since the inception of IPTK in April 2008. As they paused over her passport, the Immigration Officer again asked Richard Shapiro for his passport. Then, he was informed that he may not enter India, and that the ban was indefinite. The Immigration Authorities insisted that Richard return immediately. They stamped “cancelled” on the entry stamp they had provided minutes ago. They did not stamp “cancel” on his visa. However, Professor Shapiro was not deported. His visa was not cancelled. The Immigration Authorities refused to pay for his return airfare. He was made to leave at 11.50 am that same morning. The Immigration Authorities refused to give any reason, while stating that Professor Shapiro had not been charged with anything.

While no charges were framed against Professor Shapiro, the persons at the airport were categorical in stating that he is not to return to India, impinging on his academic freedom, freedom of movement, and rights to travel with his legal partner, and visit his family in Kolkata.

The Government of India has initiated various “peace” processes and confidence building measures without the consent of the Kashmiri people. With friends like Richard Shapiro, we are able to think and learn together. This is what is urgently required to build an atmosphere in which Kashmiris are not isolated from new ideas, other worlds, from the friendship and hospitality offered by those who seek out a place that has been forsaken by so many. The ban on Professor Shapiro days before the visit of the US President speaks volumes to the arrogance of the Indian State. It is ironic too because the Government of India desires that the US Government grant more visas to Indians, even as it just evicted a US Citizen without warning or due cause.

The ban on Richard Shapiro also further seeks to intimidate and target Angana Chatterji and the work of IPTK with Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zahir-Ud-Din, Mihir Desai, and Khurram Parvez. JKCCS condemns this ban.

The ban on Richard Shapiro is also a ban on Kashmiris, condemning them to isolation.

The Indian state has targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and military governance in Kashmir. Since 2008, Parvez Imroz and his family have been attacked in their home. Angana Chatterji and Zahir-Ud-Din have been charged under Section 505 of the Ranbir Penal Code, with writing to incite against the Indian State. Last week, Arundhati Roy has been threatened with charges of sedition. JKCCS condemns the attack on the home of Arundhati Roy in New Delhi, and the continued targeting of her stand on Kashmir, and the dangerous role being played by the mainstream Indian media in inciting violence against her.

These actions speak to the intent of the Indian State as it continues it impunity rule in Kashmir, with deliberate actions to isolate Kashmiris from the world and the world from Kashmiris. In the past, several academics and journalists have been banned from entering India, and numerous Kashmiri scholars, journalists, and activists have also been banned from leaving Kashmir to travel abroad.

Sincerely,

Adv. Parvez Imroz

President, JKCCS

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Red permalink
    November 2, 2010 8:21 PM

    Okay…so couple of professional anti-India self-proclaimed scholars get banned… so why are you so upset Vij ? Of course, I know why you would be so upset…but still asking…..

    The writer says :

    “The ban on Richard Shapiro also further seeks to intimidate and target Angana Chatterji and the work of IPTK with Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zahir-Ud-Din, Mihir Desai, and Khurram Parvez. JKCCS condemns this ban.”

    And India welcomes it. The ban I mean.

    Jeez… you spit at us and we are supposed to garland you ?

  2. Ammu Abraham permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:32 PM

    Am sorry to hear about this, though I do not know Prof. Shapiro. I do know Anagana Chatterji. I was quite shocked by the attack on Arundhati Roy’s house by the BJP women’s wing. Not that I particularly appreciate her appearing on the same platform as Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Hardly a fit protector of Free Speech, or freedom for all in general. But we are all supposed to be protectors of free speech, and must condemn the attempts of right wing women storm troopers to intimidate women whose views do not fit in with their ideas on ‘hindu rashtra”.

  3. Ron permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:50 PM

    “While no charges were framed against Professor Shapiro, the persons at the airport were categorical in stating that he is not to return to India, impinging on his academic freedom, freedom of movement, and rights to travel with his legal partner, and visit his family in Kolkata.”

    While i oppose the ban on entry of this US citizen if it is done without any reason …..it is important to make it clear that NO FOREIGNER has a “right to travel” or “right to entry” in India.

    For an US Citizen(or any other foreigner) , entering India is NOT a right. Its a privilege!

    India reserves the right to refuse any foreigner entry without citing any reason whatsoever….

    Every country does it!

    • November 6, 2010 11:47 PM

      Ron, those who believe in helping make a borderless world believe that being able to freely visit another country should be a matter of right. And charity begins at home, as they say.

  4. hormasji permalink
    November 2, 2010 11:46 PM

    He wasnt really banned from the country, he was only denied entry and most probally not on any political grounds as your note seems to suggest.

    I am not even sure legally there is such a thing as banning some from the country. By you analogy every person who is denied a visa to india is automaticllay banned form the country. To me from the facts as narrated by you it seemed an administrative decision of the Immigration Authorities. Pretty unfair to impose intentions and malice behind it.

    I am not saying it was right. I am sure some one down the line must have made a mistake. But pretty far fetched to link it with the political leanings of his wife, when at least she herself had no such problems when she was travelling. If the decision had been political wouldnt she herself have been stopped.

  5. CitySlut permalink
    November 3, 2010 7:02 PM

    shameful

  6. sakib permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:38 PM

    Stupid indians.

    and especially when it comes to kashmir, they can rule us by force for another 500 years but we will always be kashmiri’s and they will always be indians.

    down witht the tyrants. and history will judge, when we are in a position to annihilate you, we’d rather forgive you cauz for us, you’re just to trifle to indulge with.

    • dark lord permalink
      November 4, 2010 6:30 PM

      “when we are in a position to annihilate you, we’d rather forgive you cauz for us, you’re just to trifle to indulge with.”

      Did this guy just threaten 1 billion people with annihilation? Wonder what filtering process Kafila follows. And the next post has a problem with Media whipping up violence.

      • Sunalini permalink
        November 5, 2010 8:22 AM

        dark lord, you must be joking, equating the mainstream, multi-billion rupee, high TRP, high-impact Indian newsmedia with one commentator. in any case, what sakib said (which i don’t support) is only what the nuclear bomb sitting over south asia is saying, if you could read its metal lips. that ‘guy’ (the bomb) has been threatening one billion people with annihilation since he was born. but that’s national security, this verbal outpouring by one individual is violence. hmm, proportion?

        • dark lord permalink
          November 6, 2010 9:05 PM

          Sunalini, you must be high. There is nothing in Sakib post where is remotely related to your interpretation.

          Further, violence is violence. Does not matter if its a multi-billion rupee, high TRP (doubt whether news channels are high TRP).

          • Sunalini permalink
            November 7, 2010 10:27 AM

            Woohoo, dark lord, if I should be so lucky…!!! Unfortunately, am not. I am sober, and am welcome to my interpretation, as you are to yours.

  7. an indian permalink
    November 4, 2010 10:46 AM

    In my view such bans should be avoided unless there are compelling reasons. If his entry was to be denied they should have informed him before his departure.
    I have a small question.How many of you who oppose this have also opposed the denial of U.S visa to Modi.How many of you have opposed the campaigns in support of /demanding denial of U.S visa to Modi.
    If you are for freedom of movement for anyone irrespective of their political philosophy/ideology then you should oppose denial of U.S visa to Modi.
    Otherwise supporting the freedom of movement of some but not those whom we oppose politically is an act in hypocrisy.

    • Bharathi permalink
      November 6, 2010 4:33 PM

      I agree completely. We have to have a common yarstick. The rate & the way in which USA rejects VISA’s is astonishing.

    • world citizen permalink
      November 18, 2010 12:01 AM

      His Visa was not rejected. He had an Indian Visa. Entry was denied after issuance of a Visa. These are different things. Any country reserves the right to deny the Visa and give no reason for it. And that would be fine. For that matter any country reserves the right to deny entry and that is fine too. The point here is that they made it clear that he was not welcome because of his association with Angana Chatterji (by first allowing and then revoking his entry stamp). And that is the problem. It is unfair. They are trying to intimidate individuals who are speaking up against the injustice perpetrated by the Indian state. And that is in violation of freedom, justice and other high ideals on which the idea of India was supposedly based.

  8. shama zaidi permalink
    November 4, 2010 4:42 PM

    every other indian wanting to travel to the usa for some seminar or the other is denied a visa.

  9. Shashwati permalink
    November 6, 2010 3:54 PM

    anonymous poster (an indian, assuming others aren’t) Modi is accused of crimes against humanity, which according to US law is grounds for denial of a visa.

    Shama Zaidi: your point being?

    • dark lord permalink
      November 6, 2010 9:08 PM

      Modi being accused by whom? by police or perhaps in the court? AFAIK, I am unaware of any such action. By the way, if A Roy is tomorrow accused of being a maoist by right wingers, should the US reject her a visa?

  10. November 6, 2010 11:52 PM

    Narendra Modi was disallowed to the US under a US law: http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=43432

    I support US denial of visa to Narendra Modi as a purely political act of bringing public embarrassment to a man who was clearly responsible for a pogrom. Richard Shapiro, on the other hand, is no pogrom engineer. Richard Shapiro has been given this treatment clearly because India wants to prevent him from writing another article about Kashmir.

    It is also to be noted that denial of visa to Indians to visit the US in no way justifies denial of visa to Richard Shapiro. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  11. November 10, 2010 5:30 PM

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