A controversy around a Greenpeace International expert being turned away from the airport last week has prompted the home ministry to consider introducing a system to cancel visas granted to foreigners once security agencies blacklist them.
Aaron Gray-Block, a media relations specialist and crisis response campaigner, was denied entry into the country at Bengaluru airport despite holding a valid business visa, a move Greenpeace insisted was part of a coordinated crackdown orchestrated by the home ministry.
“There is absolutely no reason why he should be treated in such an arbitrary way,” Divya Raghunandan, programme director, Greenpeace India said in a statement on Monday,
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar promptly distanced himself from the decision. “We have nothing to do with that... A different ministry is doing this for security of the country,” he said.
A home ministry spokesperson responded, explaining that Gray-Block’s name had been included in the black list of individuals drawn up by security agencies that contains names of individuals who are not allowed to enter the country.
A home ministry official familiar with the case said Gray-Block was granted a multiple-entry business visa in October with a one-year validity. He travelled to India in November and indulged in what the security establishment classified as undesirable activities.
Conceding the episode could have been better handled, the official added that it was being examined if an automated system could be put in place that flags foreigners in the blacklist who have a valid visa.
Gray-Block insisted there was no reason for him to be placed in the blacklist. “My visit to India was to learn more about Greenpeace India’s environmental campaigns,” he said.