FORUM-ASIA Director barred from entering India, arbitrarily detained

Published On: December 22, 2017 04:06 PM NPT

BANGKOK, Dec 22: The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) gravely condemned Indian Immigration authorities’ decision to refuse entry to Mukunda Raj Kattel, Director of FORUM-ASIA in the country. He was denied entry by the Immigration Department at Tiruchirappalli International Airport, Tamil Nadu, India.

Kattel, who arrived at Tiruchirappalli International Airport on December 19 was denied access to a lawyer and held for more than 18 hours. He could not contact his family and friends as no communication access was provided. No reasons were given despite Mukunda’s repeated requests on why was he barred from entering India.

He was deported back to Bangkok, Thailand at around 10:30 PM on 20 December 2017.

As a Nepali citizen, Mukunda does not require a visa to travel to India. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries enables Nepali and Indian citizens to move freely across the border without a passport or visa, live and work and even own property or conduct trade.

Airport authorities denied People's Watch to send a lawyer for Mukunda.  

Mukunda has been involved with several human rights initiatives for the last 20 years and is a prominent human rights advocate. He is one of the two Directors of FORUM-ASIA and is based at the secretariat in Bangkok, Thailand.

‘This incident cannot be seen in isolation,’ says John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA. ‘It is yet another example of the hostility of the Indian authorities towards human rights defenders. As a party to international human rights regime, the Government of India must guarantee the freedoms of expression, movement, peaceful assembly and association of all human rights defenders in India in all circumstances,’ stresses John Samuel.

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