Australian journalist's claim that she was forced to leave India not correct: Govt sources

The ABC journalist claimed on Tuesday that she was denied an extension of her visa by the Indian government because of her reports "crossed a line".
Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News, Australia.
Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News, Australia.Photo | X @AvaniDias

NEW DELHI: Days after she left India, Australian journalist Avani Dias claimed on Tuesday that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave the country even as government sources said her allegation is incorrect and misleading.

The South Asia Bureau Chief of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) left India on April 19, and she claimed on Tuesday that she was denied an extension of her visa by the Indian government because of her reports "crossed a line".

"After Australian Government intervention, I got a mere two-month extension. Less than 24 hours before my flight," she said in a post on 'X'.

"We were also told my election accreditation would not come through because of an Indian Ministry directive. We left on day one of voting in the national election in what Modi calls 'the mother of democracy'," she added.

Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News, Australia.
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However, government sources said Dias was found to have violated visa rules while undertaking her professional pursuits.

In spite of this, on her request, she was assured that her visa would be extended for the coverage of the general elections, the sources said, adding her previous visa was valid till April 20.

"The contention of Avani Dias, the South Asia Correspondent of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave the country is not correct, misleading and mischievous," a source said.

Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News, Australia.
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The sources said Dias paid the visa fee on April 18 and her visa was extended till end June the same day. She, however, chose to leave India on April 20, they said, adding at the time of her departure she held a valid visa and her extension of visa stood approved.

Her point about not been permitted to cover elections is also factually incorrect, the sources said.

Coverage of election activities outside of booths is permitted to all Journalist Visa holders, they added.

"Authority letters are required only for access to polling booths and counting stations. This, however, cannot be processed while the visa extension is under process," the source said.

"It is pertinent to note that other ABC correspondents -- Meghna Bali and Som Patidar -- have already received their letters," the source added.

Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for ABC News, Australia.
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