US professor deported for ‘political activism’ in Valley

Even as the J&K government said today that US academic Prof Richard Shapiro was not on its watchlist, it has emerged that the Centre decided to deport him from the Indira Gandhi International Airport on charges of continued "political activism in the state while on a tourist visa".

Sources said the government decided to take action against Shapiro, who held a tourist visa, because of his partner Angana Chatterji's involvement with the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and her association with the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS).

Chatterji was travelling with Shapiro when he was denied entry.

Sources said the professor "was misusing his tourist visa to visit J&K where he was conducting activities not in line with the purpose for which the visa was issued".

On Monday, Shapiro was sent back from New Delhi airport when he was on his way to Kashmir with Chatterji, who is also an anthropology professor and co-convener of the human rights tribunal. Last year, the tribunal had come up with an extensive report on mass graves in Kashmir, saying "2,900 unidentified persons were buried in these graves after being killed by security forces".

"We have no information about his (Shapiro's) deportation. He was not on our watchlist," said Senior Superintendent of Police Javid Riyaz. "We didn't deport him. He was deported by the Immigration authorities".

When contacted, the press section of the US embassy in New Delhi declined to comment, saying "we have no information about the issue".

"This is a serious issue. Whether you call it eviction or deportation, you can't separate him (Shapiro) from his family. I am his family," said Chatterji, who is a US citizen of Indian origin. "This puts across an ugly image of India".

Chatterji said Shapiro was stopped after initially being allowed to enter the country. "When we arrived at the airport, they stamped his (Shapiro's) passport for entry permit. But when I went to them, they detained me. Then they called him again and put a cancel stamp on his papers," said Chatterji.

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