Being forced to leave India, alleges French journalist | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Being forced to leave India, alleges French journalist

Feb 16, 2024 09:36 PM IST

Vanessa Dougnac contended the home ministry hasn’t responded to her repeated requests for an explanation or a review of its action

New Delhi: A French journalist, facing the prospect of having her Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card cancelled over her reportage, alleged on Friday she was “being forced to leave” the country by the government of India.

French reporter Vanessa Dougnac has had to return to France after 2 decades in India.(X / @RSF_inter)
French reporter Vanessa Dougnac has had to return to France after 2 decades in India.(X / @RSF_inter)

Vanessa Dougnac, the spouse of an Indian citizen, who was the former South Asia correspondent for newsweekly Le Point and the newspapers Le Soir and La Croix, was issued a notice by the Union home ministry last month asking why her OCI card shouldn’t be cancelled as her work has created a “biased negative perception” of India.

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She said in a statement issued on Friday: “I am being forced to leave by the Government of India. Sixteen months ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs denied my right to work as a journalist, providing no reasons nor justifications, and no hearing.”

Dougnac contended the home ministry hasn’t responded to her repeated requests for an explanation or a review of its action. This was followed by the notice on her OCI card that accused her articles of being “malicious” and harming “the sovereignty and integrity of India”, she said.

There was no word from Indian officials on the development. People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity the action was taken in view of “serious visa violations” by Dougnac. They said the OCI card is a travel document and not a right, and can be cancelled if there are violations of visa conditions.

Also Read: France flags FRRO notice to French journalist based in Delhi to Indian authorities

Dougnac said she came to India 25 years ago as a student and subsequently worked here as a journalist for 23 years, in addition to getting married and raising her son in the country. “Leaving is not my choice,” she added.

Noting that she is unable to work, she said she had opted to leave before the conclusion of proceedings related to her OCI card. “It has become clear that I cannot keep living in India and earning my livelihood. I am fighting these accusations before the competent forums and I have full faith in the legal process. But I can’t afford to wait for its outcome,” she said.

“The proceedings with respect to my OCI status have shattered me, especially now that I see them as part of a wider effort by the Government of India to curb dissent from the OCI community. The authorities had earlier suggested I should change my profession. But I am a journalist, a profession that I hold dear to my heart, and I cannot agree to give it up because of unproven accusations,” she added.

The French government raised the case of Dougnac with the Indian side both before and during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to New Delhi as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26. Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said at the time that the Indian side had shared its position on the matter with the French government.

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