India deports radio broadcaster David Barsamian upon arrival at Delhi airport

Update: The Press Trust of India confirms the Kashmir angle. See more updates at the end of this post.

David Barsamian

David Barsamian, founder director of Alternative Radio, and independent radio legend, was deported on arrival from New Delhi airport in the early hours of Sept 23. Details are awaited since David is probably still on the plane back. But between his arrival sometime after midnight, and his being “put back” on a flight at 3am, David was able to only make a quick call to his ‘home’ here in Delhi, to the family of his longtime sitar guru, Debu Chaudhuri.

At this point it can only be speculation, but since David has been visiting India almost every year since the early 1970s, one can guess that his attention to the Kashmir issue could well be the reason. On a recent trip to Kashmir he did a series of interviews and local events.

Less than a year ago, American academic Richard Shapiro was similarly deported upon arrival from the Indira Gandhi International airport. His crime, presumably, was an article on two on the human rights situation in Kashmir. Earlier this month, the journalist David Devadas was assaulted by the Jammu and Kashmir police.

India’s intolerance to dissent on Kashmir is not limited to foreigners. In May this year, Delhi-based journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha was sent back to Delhi from Srinagar airport. Academic and activist Angana Chatterji has been threatened to not visit Kashmir. The J&K police had assaulted the noted Kashmiri human right defender Parvez Imroz in 2008. The media in Kashmir is tightly controlled by the state and press freedom is a matter of daily negotiation with the state.

Nation-states who deny access to foreign journalists, writers and academics – such as North Korea, Myanmar, China and Iran –  usually have things to hide. What is it that India has to hide in Kashmir? I thought ‘peace’ was ‘returning’.

Given below is an interview Barsamian conducted earlier this year with the Srinagar-based journalist Parvaiz Bukhari.

Update on 24 September:
Barsamian is back in Colorado, from where he told Kafila on phone: “I was deported because of Kashmir. I had covered other sensitive issues before – Jharkand, farmers’ suicdes, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Narmada. Kashmir goes to the core sensibility of the Indian state as a secular entity. Anyone who challenges the official narrative has to be punished. I’m lucky. I have my fingernails, wasn’t incarcerated or tortured. Others are not so fortunate.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Express reports that Barsamian planned to be in Srinagar next week to report on unmarked graves.

Update 2: David Barsamian’s audio interview on BBC Urdu – he speaks Urdu and how!

27 thoughts on “India deports radio broadcaster David Barsamian upon arrival at Delhi airport”

  1. Double standards!! Ms A Roy or Geelani can curse and talk separate statehood but the GoI will not say or do anything to them! And someone who does it openly is packed off back to their land! Perhaps the Govt seriously needs to wake up and smell the coffee and know time is running out on Kashmir! And also on their double evil standards!

  2. Who ever is behind this decision has ensured that more people will now look for and read every word that David Barsamian has ever written on Kashmir or anything else for that matter.

    David does not need a publicist any longer, not at least in South Asia, not for a long while now.

    If there is nothing to be done, A fool will do it every time.

    1. how true Mr. Hashmi but the fact that people glamourise Kashmir issue instead of giving concrete and legitimate steps to solve the problem.

  3. India is ashamed of the terrorist activities it is carrying out in kashmir. More than 100000 people have died in kashmir from 1990. Kashmir’s are demanding right for self determination which they have been promised by indian government earlier and by PLEBISCITE resolution passed by UNSC for kashmir of which india is signatory. But india is now refusing to carry out plebiscite here and has carried out mass genocide of the people. There is complete crackdown on people/media etc. Last year over 120 school going children were killed by indian army in kashmir. Message is clear- We want freedom.

  4. During Indo-Pak partition in 1947 the agreement is that all Muslim majority regions should be merged with Pakistan and all Hindu majority regions should be merged with India.
    Forward caste regime betrayed by annexing Muslim majority Kashmir.

    1. Forward caste regime betrayed by annexing Muslim majority Kashmir.
      before uttering sch things feel free to travel through the pages of kashmir’s history then you will know that at that time it was on kashmirs demand that india interfered into their struggle against then pakistan and every one knows that at that time popular sentiments was in favour of accession to india and india never wanted such a strategically important territorry to rest in the hands of a rather unstable neighbour . But i do condemn the human rights violations and atrocities committed by indian forces on kashmir soil

  5. The Government of India has once again demonstrated that it is an incompetent, stupid bully. David Barsamian is one of the gentlest, most humane men I have ever met. Not many know that besides being passionately committed to free speech and freedom in general, he is a serious and devoted Indian classical musician, a sitar player, and that he comes to India to be with his ustad. It just enrages me to know that a man like him can be made to feel unwelcome. The Government of India should just make a blanket policy that declares that the only people it wants to welcome are arms dealers who can line the pockets of the people in power. That would a more appropriate reflection of the mind-set of the people who make this kind of decision. A very, very sad day to be calling oneself an Indian.

  6. Comrades, i know how deportation is painful.
    FRRO, Delhi: Dr. Vivek Gogia
    Tel. No. +91-11-26711384 (O)
    +9111-26711348 (FAX)
    +9111-23386090 (R)
    E-mail :
    Office Address: East Block-VIII, Level-II,
    Sector-1, R.K. Puram, New Delhi-110066
    AFRRO (Departure) at IGI Airport: Tel. No. +91-11-25652389
    AFRRO (Arrival) at IGI Airport: Tel No. +91-11-25696075

  7. Last week Lingaram Kodopi, journalist from Chhattisgarh was arrested and is still in jail. Today David Barsamian is deported. Ten years ago a student from Canada who wrote in EPW about Narmada was similarly sent back from Delhi, denied entry. How many before and since and how many more??

  8. Bunch of spinelss asses on this blog , try writing and doing that kind of stuff in USA or any other gulf country or our friendly neighbour , they will cut up in piecs and u wont ven know where u are. First time GOI done a right thing. Armchair paid activists lay off. Jai Akhand Bharat

  9. With friends like these who needs enemies? It would be interesting to know the thinking (if one can call it that) of people who make such policies. Is it going to prevent reporting on the ground realities of Kashmir? As Basharat Peer has noted, India’s own alternative media is itself responsible for the majority of such reporting. The only tangible outcome of this stupid decision will be that the deportation gets reported, as was Richard Shapiro’s deportation. As more such cases pile up, it will give us the image of an illiberal state. And what’s more, it will draw attention to Kashmir. I suppose the Kashmiris ought to be grateful to the government of India for such small mercies.

    I wonder what’s next: attempts to muzzle the Indian alternative media?

  10. Its not unusual for Governments. When they apprehend the visitor will cause them embarrassment they think it wise not to allow the person in. Unfortunately for the Government, he was not an Indian to be put in behind the bar, the course left was to do what has been done. This show how vulnerable Governments are? Pity them.

  11. For all:

    The Government of India is Stupid – no doubt – the diplomacy sucks big time, they have failed big time and what is adding to their problems is that the civil society is not providing them solutions, instead it is only commenting(needed but more is required).
    see to explain with a simple example, Kashmir is bleeding, everybody knows it – and people who can like u, civil society should have acted for small things say removing AFSPA (u have written open letters, but they are not enough). you could have a very intensive campaign against this Draconian law. your approach and campaign is limited to kafila and other blogs, which is not enough, infarct it is useless (in the current situation only) – get to the ground with the people of Kashmir. educate them don’t Radicalise them. they deserve a life.
    P.S. i used they because i have been away from Kashmir since high school, have never felt the pain on me but i understand any Kashmiri in pain is my pain.

    Love and peace:

  12. When David Barsamian had a 70 minutes video session with Arundhati Roy during his last visit in India in Feb 2011, the latter was saying :
    Even the middle classes who have been benefited by neoliberal policies of the last two decades have slowly started recognizing what is actually happening to the majority of people ,the poor.
    IT IS STREET TALK what we have been yelling about earlier”

    That was not just about Kashmir but about the grim scenario from all over the country, where the poor and marginalized were pitted in both armed and unarmed conflicts ,with a mighty state apparatus.
    After the large scale mobilizations at Janthar Mantar – Ramleela around anti corruption and Jan Lokpal themes, much remain to be reported in perspective, especially from the viewpoint of what we call the alternative media . Revelation by the J&K State Human Rights Commission of the unearthing of over 2000 bodies of disappeared Kashmiri citizens from over 38 mass burial sites. There was a need to connect this and related issues elsewhere linked to naked state brutality even as near total lack of sensitivity on the side of the anti corruption crusaders had been conspicuous. It is becoming all clear that the oligarchs will go to any absurd limit to avoid spilling the beans!

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