A group of Australian journalists have lost their arranged flight to India and the opportunity to carry out a dozen of interviews with some of the brightest people in India, after the latter has not responded to their visa applications even after three months.
Journalists of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, had received a grant to interview a wide range of people in India, including academics, environmental activists, satirists, journalists and historians for a radio series on the topic India after Independence. They had booked their flight for February and despite of the fact that they applied for their visas in December, they still have not received an official answer.
After their flight date has passed, India-born reporter Amruta Slee, part of the Australian journalists’ group scheduled to travel to India, wrote in an article published on ABC online on February 6, that they still haven’t received an official explanation.
Slee claims that after getting no news while the flight date was approaching, she tried to call the Sydney visa office to check where they went up to and found the helpline was outsourced to somewhere in India and no-one there had an idea about what was happening back in Australia. She asked the DFAT who had given the grant, and other friends and journalists who she thought might have a contact but they were all comforting her saying that “the consulate often waits until the last moment”.
“We never got our visas. We haven’t had an official explanation. We did receive some strange emails: requests to send a list of who we would talk to and offers to have someone accompany us around Delhi. There are troubling questions about what this means for Australian journalism.” Slee wrote.
According to her, a venerable source asserts that India’s failure to issue the visas is related to ABC reporting of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in October.
An investigation carried by the journalists of ABC’s Four Corners program during October, past year, has uncovered hitherto unknown tax haven ties for Adani Group’s Australian operations, with key assets ultimately owned in the British Virgin Islands. Reporter Stephen Long and his team dug into the dealings of the company and found a history of environmental and corporate malfeasance.
However, according to Slee, the people who were set out to be interviewed have apologized for the ‘shabby’ and ‘wretched’ treatment by their country.