MHA denies taking action against Pillai

MHA denies taking action against Pillai

MHA denies taking action against Pillai

The Union Home Ministry on Monday said it did not authorise a look-out circular (LOC) against Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who was mysteriously stopped from boarding a flight to the UK despite having a valid visa.

Ministry sources, however, admitted that an LOC had been issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) without authorisation. Only investigating agencies have the power to issue such a circular and the IB would have had to go through the ministry for one against Pillai.

LOC requests are authorised by the joint secretary in charge of the Foreigners Division, who has not approved any such notice against the Greenpeace activist. Home Ministry officials are “puzzled” by the IB move.

“I have no idea. Let me get a report. I shall seek a report,” a top Home Ministry official said. When asked about Greenpeace’s allegations that the government is trying to muzzle dissent, he said the organisation kept levelling such charges and “this is just one more”. “What difference does it make?” he said.

Pillai has claimed that immigration officials did not give her a reason for being offloaded from an Air India flight to London on Sunday, which has raised questions about curtailing the Greenpeace activist’s right to free movement.

Home Ministry officials also said they did not know on what grounds Pillai was offloaded and the cases against her.

The activist has asserted that she has not been convicted in any case. “I am not absconding and I have no criminal convictions. Am I being banned from travel due to my political beliefs? Is that democratic?” Pillai tweeted.

The activist also shot off a letter to Home Secretary Anil Goswami seeking a definitive answer on why an LOC was issued against her. “If a look-out notice does exist in my name, please provide me with the details of this circular along with information on the issuing authority and the reasons for it,” she said.

Pillai also said she was flying to London to give speech to MPs and was not subject to any bail conditions that would prevent her from travelling abroad. “Therefore if I am on an LOC, it is because of my political beliefs. That would be fundamentally undemocratic,” she said.

A Home Ministry official said Greenpeace could take the government to court over the matter. He spoke of a case in 1977, where now Union minister Maneka Gandhi had challenged the government impounding her passport in court.

The apex court verdict went against the government and her right to personal liberty was upheld.
DH News Service