FOREIGN Journalists Need Permission for Visiting Assam

The Ministry of Home Affairs has debunked reports that Assam has been declared a protected area and foreign journalists were asked to leave the State. The MHA called the reports “incorrect”, The Assam Tribune said citing official source. Foreign journalists intending to visit the sensitive border state however have been advised to obtain permission from India’s Ministry for External Affairs. The Order is applicable to all foreign journalists whether based in India or overseas. There is no Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) needed for visiting the northern state. Hence, no PAP or RAP is needed by a foreign journalist. MEA sources said quoted Para 82 of a 2018 MHA notification that lays out the procedure for grant of permission to visit the  restricted and protected areas, Jammu & Kashmir and the northeastern states on a journalist visa. A foreign journalist or TV cameraperson, already based in India, who desires to visit a restricted or protected area or Jammu & Kashmir or the northeastern states, should apply for a special permit through the Ministry of External Affairs (External Publicity Division).If any such request is received directly by a state government, or any other authority empowered to issue a special permit, the application shall be referred to the External Publicity Division with a copy to the Ministry of Home Affairs. A foreign journalist coming to India on a short-term visit and desiring to go to a restricted and protected area or Jammu & Kashmir or the northeastern states is advised to apply for a permit in the prescribed form through an Indian Mission, the notification released by the MEA said, reports The Assam Tribune. Earlier, The MEA had circulated a notification issued by the Bureau of Immigration under the Ministry of Home Affairs among all foreign journalists based in India. The notification listed out states of Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim in the Northeast as protected areas. The restricted areas included Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Assam was not included in the list and was neither in protected area nor restricted area list.  

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