Amidst censorship concerns, French journalist forced to leave India

Earlier this year, journalists Vanessa Dougnac and Avani Dias were similarly forced to leave India


NH Digital

Sebastien Farcis, a French journalist who lived in India for over 13 years, has announced his departure from the country after being denied a work permit, a decision he labelled as "incomprehensible censorship".

Farcis, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale and other prominent French media outlets, made the announcement on social media platform X, expressing shock over the unexpected denial.

Married to an Indian national and holding Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status, Farcis had been living and working in India but required a special permit for journalistic activities. Despite his longstanding residency and professional credentials, his routine journalist permit extension was refused in March, compelling him to leave the country earlier this week.

“This work ban comes as a big shock,” Farcis stated from Paris. “It was communicated to me on the eve of the Indian general elections, the largest democratic elections in the world, which I was hence forbidden to cover. This appeared to me as an incomprehensible censorship.”

Farcis emphasised that he received no explanation for the denial, despite making formal and repeated inquiries. The refusal to grant a new work permit has left him unable to practice his profession, leading to his and his family’s forced departure from India. “Without work or income, my family has been pushed out of India without explanation,” he added.

The incident is part of a broader trend of increasing restrictions on foreign journalists in India. Earlier this year, French journalist Vanessa Dougnac, who had worked in India for over two decades, left the country after authorities threatened her with expulsion over “malicious and critical” reporting.

In April, Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Avani Dias also exited India after being informed that her routine journalist visa extension would be denied. Though she was eventually granted a temporary visa, Dias chose to leave, citing difficulties in conducting her work.

Farcis’ case adds to growing concerns about the state of press freedom in the country. The Modi government has faced criticism for curbing media freedom, with India falling to 159th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index.

“This denial comes in a worrying context of increasing restrictions on the work of foreign journalists,” Farcis noted, underscoring the broader implications of his experience for international journalism in India.

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