A crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International was denied entry into India as his name figured in a Home Ministry “black list”, months after one of the NGO’s campaigners was “offloaded” from a flight.
The NGO raised strong objections to the denial of entry to Aaron Gray-Block at Bengaluru airport on June 6.
“Gray-Block arrived at Bengaluru airport on June 6 at 2340 hours. His name figured in the black list and thus was denied entry,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said today.
Greenpeace India, which was under the government’s scanner for allegedly violating various provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, said Gray-Block had flown in from Sydney on Saturday to take part in a series of meetings with staff here.
Official sources said Gray-Block had earlier campaigned against mining of Mahan coal block (Madhya Pradesh) and had written several articles and blogs criticising the Indian government.
The Australia-born former journalist lives in the Netherlands and has been associated with Greenpeace International for past several years.
In a tweet, Gray-Block said he was refused entry into India despite having valid business visa.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said his ministry has “nothing to do” with the denial of entry.
“We are not doing this. A different ministry is doing this for security of the country… It’s a different thing,” he said in response to a query on the matter.
Greenpeace India claimed that no formal reason was given by immigration officials in Bengaluru for turning back Gray-Block, who was not officially deported.
The NGO claimed that as Gray-Block was denied entry, his passport was seized and he was later put on a flight to Kuala Lumpur. His passport was returned to him after he landed in Kuala Lumpur, said Greenpeace, adding Gray-Block is now back in Australia.
In January, Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London. She was stopped at by immigration officers in New Delhi airport from boarding her flight to the UK capital, where she was to address British Parliamentarians.
Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai’s “offload” passport stamp was formally expunged in May.
The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India’s bank accounts following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from Delhi High Court.