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India Bans US Professor from Kashmir, threatens Indian writer with sedition charges

03 Nov

November 2, 2010

On November 1, 2010, shortly after 5.10 am, Professor Richard Shapiro was
denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Richard Shapiro is
the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the
California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also
the life partner/husband of Angana Chatterji, who is the Co-convener of the
International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in
Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and also Professor of Anthropology at CIIS.

Richard Shapiro, a US Citizen, has been accompanying Angana Chatterji, a
citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US, to India since 1997, and
has travelled here approximately thirty times. His area of work is not India or
Kashmir, but focuses primarily on issues of race, class, gender, and alliance
building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity. He is
not someone who has made India a “career,” but invested in thinking and
learning through the various struggles that Angana has been a part of across
India.

Since July 2006, Richard regularly travelled to Kashmir, and interacted with
various human rights defenders, scholars, youth, to bear witness and learn from
their experiences. He has been conscientious in not violating the conditions of
his tourist visa. He has not participated in formal conferences, and has not
conducted any applied research in Kashmir or in India. He also helped form a
Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle. Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed in 2009
and another in September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles
and newspaper reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by
him. Any scholar can do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond
the control of states and their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices
they perpetrate.

This Monday, Richard Shapiro had travelled a long way from San Francisco to be
with Angana Chatterji, who was traveling to Kashmir for work, to think and
learn. When he first presented his passport to the Immigration Authorities, he
was stamped an entry permit. Then, they started processing Angana Chatterji’s
passport. She has been stopped regularly since the inception of IPTK in April
2008. As they paused over her passport, the Immigration Officer again asked
Richard Shapiro for his passport. Then, he was informed that he may not enter
India, and that the ban was indefinite. The Immigration Authorities insisted
that Richard return immediately. They stamped “cancelled” on the entry stamp
they had provided minutes ago. They did not stamp “cancel” on his visa.
However, Professor Shapiro was not deported. His visa was not cancelled. The
Immigration Authorities refused to pay for his return airfare. He was made to
leave at 11.50 am that same morning. The Immigration Authorities refused to
give any reason, while stating that Professor Shapiro had not been charged with
anything.

While no charges were framed against Professor Shapiro, the persons at the
airport were categorical in stating that he is not to return to India,
impinging on his academic freedom, freedom of movement, and rights to travel
with his legal partner, and visit his family in Kolkata.

The Government of India has initiated various “accesses” and confidence
building measures without the consent of the Kashmiri people. With friends like
Richard Shapiro, we are able to think and learn together. This is what is
urgently required to build an atmosphere in which Kashmiris are not isolated
from new ideas, other worlds, from the friendship and hospitality offered by
those who seek out a place that has been forsaken by so many. The ban on
Professor Shapiro days before the visit of the US President speaks volumes to
the arrogance of the Indian State. It is ironic too because the Government of
India desires that the US Government grant more visas to Indians, even as it
just evicted a US Citizen without warning or due cause.

The ban on Richard Shapiro also further seeks to intimidate and target Angana
Chatterji and the work of IPTK with Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha,
Zahir-Ud-Din, Mihir Desai, and Khurram Parvez. JKCCS condemns this ban.

The ban on Richard Shapiro is also a ban on Kashmiris, condemning them to
isolation.

The Indian state has targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and
military governance in Kashmir. Since 2008, Parvez Imroz and his family have
been attacked in their home. Angana Chatterji and Zahir-Ud-Din have been
charged under Section 505 of the Ranbir Penal Code, with writing to incite
against the Indian State. Last week, Arundhati Roy has been threatened with
charges of sedition. JKCCS condemns the attack on the home of Arundhati Roy in
New Delhi, and the continued targeting of her stand on Kashmir, and the
dangerous role being played by the mainstream Indian media in inciting violence
against her.

These actions speak to the intent of the Indian State as it continues it
impunity rule in Kashmir, with deliberate actions to isolate Kashmiris from the
world and the world from Kashmiris. In the past, several academics and
journalists have been banned from entering India, and numerous Kashmiri
scholars, journalists, and activists have also been banned from leaving Kashmir
to travel abroad.

Sincerely,

Adv. Parvez Imroz

President, JKCCS

Khurram Parvez
T: +91-194-2482820
M: +91-9419013553
http://www.jkccs.org
http://www.kashmirprocess.org

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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