India criticised over arbitrary travel bans after photojournalist blocked from Pulitzer trip

Aakash Hassan in New Delhi

Indian authorities have been criticised after a Kashmiri photojournalist said she was barred from taking a flight to New York where she was scheduled to receive the 2022 Pulitzer prize. Sanna Irshad Mattoo, 27, was in a team of Reuters photographers who had won a Pulitzer for feature photography for their coverage of the coronavirus crisis in India.

“The immigration officials stopped me at the New Delhi airport while my colleagues were allowed to go,” Mattoo said. “They told me that I cannot take the flight but did not tell me the reason behind it.” It is the second time Mattoo has been stopped by Indian authorities from travelling abroad. In July, she was stopped by immigration officials while taking a flight to Paris, where she was to take part in a book launch and photography exhibition displaying her photos from Kashmir.

“I reached out to different officials after I was barred from travelling in July but got no response or acknowledgment,” she said. “Being able to attend the award ceremony was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. But the way authorities again stopped me was humiliating.”…