Shocking and unjust: Activist

Shocking and unjust: Activist

Greenpeace campaigner Priya Pillai was not allowed to board a flight to London on Sunday morning by immigration officials as her name figured in the government’s lookout database. Priya spoke to Deccan Herald’s Kalyan Ray about the harrowing experience.

What was your first reaction?

It was shocking and unjust as I have no conviction and there are no court orders against me. I have not done anything criminal, yet I was being treated like a criminal.

What were you told at the airport?

Immigration officials told me I was denied permission on the orders of the Government of India, as my name figures in a lookout database.

I was given nothing in writing and Air India was asked to remove my baggage. They kept on saying they have nothing personal against me and were following government orders. My passport was given an “Offload” stamp.

What do you think could be the reason behind this move?

I cannot fathom the reason. I want to know the reason. I have an opinion that may not sync with the government, but what have I done besides that?

This is the second time in the last six months a Greenpeace activist has faced hurdles from the Narendra Modi government. Is there a pattern?

Greenpeace is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, in Chennai since April 2001.

We receive funds from people whose names are declared on our website, and campaign to protect the environment.

Is it wrong to talk and fight for the environment? Since the new government took over, Greenpeace is selectively targeted. An Intelligence Bureau report was leaked to the media. There is an effort to bully us, track us and teach us a lesson, which is unacceptable.

What programme were you to attend in London?

The British Parliament has an all-party Parliament group. I was to highlight issues concerning violation of human rights and environmental norms by Essar, a London-based company, in Mahan coal mine areas. I was to address British parliamentarians on January 14.

What is the nature of your work at Mahan?

For the last 3.5 years, I have been involved in a campaign where villagers are given details about the state government and plans of business houses. I am part of a team that translates government documents for them and file RTI queries to extract information from the government.

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