Amid Macron’s India sojourn, French journalist faces expulsion

New Delhi | Updated: 26 January, 2024 5:31 pm IST
Vanessa Dougnac, French journalist in India, has been threatened with deportation.

NEW DELHI: India marked its 75th Republic Day with a vibrant parade, featuring French President Emmanuel Macron as the guest of honour. This day commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution, establishing it as a sovereign republic. Macron, during his two-day visit, also explored Jaipur’s impressive Amber fort, the iconic Hawa Mahal, and the Jantar Mantar astronomical observation site. Moreover, he also participated in a roadshow with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, followed by comprehensive discussions at the opulent Taj Rambagh Palace hotel. The talks covered all essential facets of the bilateral relationship between India and France, as well as various geopolitical challenges.

However, amidst the discussions among geopolitical analysts highlighting the significance of France’s enhanced bilateral connections with India, reports have surfaced about a French journalist facing expulsion from India after residing in the country for two decades.

Living in Delhi since 2001, Vanessa Dougnac, a prominent foreign affairs expert, correspondent for the French newspaper La Croix and magazine Le Point and was officially notified by the Home Ministry on January 18.

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As per a report by Le Monde, the notice required her to relinquish her residence permit and an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card, a unique status in the form of a permanent visa given to foreign individuals with an Indian spouse. She has until February 2 to respond.

The journalist has allegedly been under the government’s scrutiny for more than 18 months. In September 2022, she was deprived of her professional rights, a penalty that was never adequately explained. Despite ongoing endeavours by the French embassy in India and the intervention of diplomatic advisors from the Elysée, her situation has not improved; in fact, it has worsened.

The official notice alleged that she had violated regulations, engaging in “journalistic activities without any special permission”. The authorities also stated that her work was “inimical” to national interests. “Her journalistic activities are malicious and critical in manner. They create a biased perception about India. In addition, her activities may also provoke disorder and disturb peace,” it read.

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However, as per the report, Dougnac has vehemently denied “all the allegations and imputations” made against her in the letter. “India is my home, a country which I deeply love and respect, and I have never engaged in any acts that are in any manner prejudicial to Indian interests,” she said in a statement.

In fact, last year, she had even refrained from reporting news in India, resulting in a significant loss of income. The only articles she has penned focused on the other countries within her jurisdiction: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

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