Sanna Irshad Mattoo, a photojournalist from Srinagar, has been denied permission by the Indian government to go to the United States on Thursday to accept the Pulitzer Prize.
Even though Mattoo had a ticket and a visa, she was halted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The female photojournalist, who is 28 years old, was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. She also works for a British wire service.
In a tweet, Mattoo stated, “Despite having a valid US visa and ticket, I was stopped at immigration at Delhi airport and prohibited from going overseas. I was on my way to accept the Pulitzer award in New York.”
She stated in her second tweet, “This is the second time I have been stopped without cause or reason. After what occurred a few months ago, I contacted some officials, but I never got an answer. For me, the opportunity to go to the award ceremony was once in a lifetime.”
According to the journalist and the Pulitzer website, Mattoo, a freelance photojournalist, was a member of the Reuters team that covered the Covid-19 outbreak in India and received the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.
In the meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded in a statement that Indian authorities allow Mattoo to freely go abroad and accept her Pulitzer Prize in New York.
Beh Lih Yi, the coordinator of CPJ’s Asia program, said in Frankfurt, Germany, “There is no reason why Kashmiri journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo, who had all the right travel documents and has won a Pulitzer-one of the most prestigious journalism awards-should have been prevented from traveling abroad.”
“This choice is extreme and arbitrary. All types of intimidation and harassment towards reporters covering the situation in Kashmir must stop right now by Indian authorities.”
While one of the 10 winners of the Serendipity Arles grants 2020, Mattoo was stopped earlier this year in July as she was traveling to Paris for a book launch and photographic exhibition. She was stopped at the airport by immigration officers despite having a French visa for no apparent reason.