Australian Journalist Says She Was Pushed Out of India

A senior journalist with Australia’s national broadcaster says she was effectively pushed out of India after her reporting on Sikh separatism angered the Indian government, accusing the authorities of hindering her from going to events, seeking to have her reporting taken down and refusing for weeks to renew her visa.

Avani Dias, the South Asia correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said on social media that Indian officials told her last month that her application for a resident journalist visa extension would not be approved because a television segment she had produced on accusations that India was responsible for the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada had “crossed the line.”

She was eventually granted a temporary visa extension at the last minute after lobbying by the Australian government, less than a day before she was scheduled to leave the country, Ms. Dias said in her podcast, “Looking for Modi.” But she said that she ultimately decided to leave because “it felt too difficult to do my job in India.”

“I was struggling to get into public events run by Modi’s party,” Ms. Dias said on the podcast.

The Indian government has disputed Ms. Dias’ account and said she was assured by high ranking officials that her visa would be renewed.

Her departure came amid a broader crackdown on free speech in the country and raids on journalists reporting on sensitive topics.

In March, Ms. Dias produced a television segment about the accusations made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada last year that agents acting on behalf of the Indian government were behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist, on Canadian soil. The half-hour documentary examined the movement, which advocates for a separate Sikh state called Khalistan to be carved out of the Indian state of Punjab.

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