New Delhi: The home ministry has defended its decision to stop Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai’s travel to London in a court affidavit that says her deposition before the British Parliament would leave India open to sanctions by the West.
Ms Pillai was off-loaded from a flight to London on January 11. In its affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the home ministry argued that a “Look Out Circular” had been issued for the activist by the Intelligence Bureau in January.
The circular said Ms Pillai had to be stopped from leaving India since “she was going to project the image of the Indian government negatively” abroad. The campaigner was to make a presentation before an Indo-British all-party Parliamentary Group on tribal rights violations, as alleged by Greenpeace, in Madhya Pradesh’s Mahan coal block.
The home ministry claimed that such reports are meant to “subdue India’s increasing strength in global platforms” and could “potentially damage India’s growth prospects at a time foreign direct investment was required to boost infrastructure and industry.”
The government cited two bizarre reasons for its action. It said that unlike Ms Pillai, other prominent activists like Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy never testified before foreign parliaments; “they relied on all the institutions of India’s vibrant democracy as provided by the Constitution.”
The court statement also counted India among nations at the receiving end of the West’s “instruments of control.” These included Iran, Russia and North Korea, the ministry told the court.
A Look out Circular is usually issued by investigating agencies against criminals or on credible intelligence about terrorist activity.
The government claimed that Ms Pillai’s statements would harm India’s image abroad and given that she had other modes of redress available under the Constitution, her deposition would be inimical to national interest.