After denying Reuter journalist’s entry into India for allegedly violating visa rules, the Home Ministry official on Friday said all foreigners have to respect Indian law and those found in violation are liable to be punished. Speaking to PTI, the official told action against Cathal McNaughton, Chief photographer at the agency’s Delhi office, is not permanent and can be reviewed after six months or a year. “Everybody has to follow law. For violation, the consequence is the same for everybody. Foreigners should respect Indian law. If any Indian visits abroad and violates the law of that country, he or she is also liable to be punished,” the official said.
Irish national McNaughton, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in May 2018, allegedly travelled to restricted and protected areas in Jammu and Kashmir without permission. He is said to have also reported from the State without valid permission. Cathal McNaughton was recently sent back from the airport after his arrival from an overseas trip.“If somebody is denied entry, it does not mean that he is blacklisted forever. It may be reviewed after six months or one year,” the official said.
Visa rules for foreign journalists say that a foreign journalist, TV cameraperson etc, based in India, should apply for a special permit through the Ministry of External Affairs if they desire to visit restricted or protected area or Jammu and Kashmir or the North Eastern States. Under normal circumstances, India grants foreign journalists visas for up to three months. In rare cases, a six-month journalist visa, with a single or double entry, can be issued.