Not Getting India Visa Due to Adani Coverage, Says Indian-Origin Journalist in Australia

A team of journalists from Australia is not getting visas to visit India due to a report on the Adani Group, Amruta Slee said.


Australian journalists who had done an expose on the Adani Group’s taxation issues in Australia claim that they are finding it difficult to get visas for India. Amruta Slee, an Australia-based journalist of Indian origin, has said that India has not responded to the visa requests of a group of journalists from Radio National, a radio network run by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), who wanted to work on a radio series about India after Independence.

Slee, in an article on ABC published on Feb. 6, says that she and her colleagues were given a grant to interview a wide range of people in India, including academics, journalists, environmental activists, satirists and historians. “My idea was that the country had undergone enormous changes and the western media has largely not kept up with those changes,” Slee told the SBS news website.

“So there was everything from politics to society. I got a grant from the Australia-India Council which is part of DFAT. And I had set up 16 or 17 interviews in India. These are experts in their fields and ordinary people, up and coming student leaders and people who have been political and economic journalists for a long time. So, it was really a broad range of people to give people a good idea of contemporary India.”

The team had applied for journalist visa in December and booked their flights for February. Slee’s article on ABC details her calls to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which had given them the grant, friends and people who worked at embassies, and journalists who may have a contact to help ease the hold up.

“I sent countless emails, I called Julie Bishop’s (Minister of Foreign Affairs) office, I called Delhi,” she said in her article. Their flight dates have passed, and the team has not got an official denial of visa or an explanation on why they haven’t got it.

Slee wrote: “Reassurances flowed – this was ‘always the way’, the consulate ‘often waits until the last moment’. But that last moment was a fortnight away, a week away. Then, with days to go, a highly placed government source admitted there was a problem: ‘It’s about the Adani story’.”

The Adani story in question was the work of ABC reporter Stephen Long and a team from the network’s Four Corners show, which said that the Indian firm had not declared to the Australian government that its holding company for their rail and mine project in the island nation was actually based in the British Virgin Islands. This makes Adani Group liable to pay far less tax to the Australian government.

Slee further said: “It was a hard-hitting piece but still it seemed incredible that it could affect our visit. After all, India is a democracy.”

She added: “We did receive some strange emails: requests to send a list of who we would talk to and offers to have someone accompany us around Delhi.”

In response to Slee’s article, the consulate in Sydney tweeted: “Delay in issuing visas to ABC news team has nothing to do with the issues mentioned in this article. ABC news journalists violated Indian visa rules recently by engaging in activities which were not declared at the time of applying their visas.”

Slee fired back on Twitter: “Please explain who violated what and how this contradicts what I wrote?”

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