Govt officials refute Australian journalist’s claim of visa extension denial

Avani Dias left the country on April 19

Australian journalist visa extension row Australian journalist Avani Dias | X

Australian journalist Avani Dias's claim that she was not allowed to stay in India to cover the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in the country was called "misleading" by the government officials. 

Dias on Tuesday alleged that she was denied an extension of her visa by the Indian government as her report "crossed a line". She left India on April 19, the Phase 1 polling day in the country. 

However, the official sources said that the South Asia correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was found to have violated visa rules while undertaking her professional pursuits. 

According to officials, her previous visa was valid till April 20. On her request, she was assured that her visa would be extended for the coverage of general elections, they added. 

"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 was quoted by PTI. 

Dias had requested to extend the visa till June-end. However, she chose to leave India even as her extension of visa stood approved, said the officials. 

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.

Meanwhile, Dias said that the decision to allow an extension was made after the Australian government's intervention, but the Indian government would only give her another two months in the country. She also alleged that the visa came through less than 24 hours before she was scheduled to leave. 

Dias in her podcast 'Looking For Modi' said that the Indian government's move was because of her documentary on the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, which sparked a diplomatic row between the two nations. 

"The Narendra Modi government has made me feel so uncomfortable that we decided to leave, " she said in her podcast. 


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