The Indian government’s over-sensitivity towards adverse global media coverage just found another target: a french journalist with an OCI card !
In a surprising move, the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Indian government issued a notice to French journalist Vanessa Dougnac to cancel her Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, citing “malicious” and “biassed” reporting. Dougnac has denied all allegations (scroll down to read her statement).
The Indian government is readying for the Republic Day celebrations on Jan 26, for which French President Emmanuel Macron is slated to be chief guest.
Married to an Indian citizen and residing in India since 2001, Dougnac is a correspondent for French newspapers ‘La Croix’ and ‘Le Point’.
In a statement, the International Federation of Journalists (IJU) has decried the notice and said it smacked of “an act of vindictiveness, harassment and intimidation of the journalist and attack on press freedom”. According to this report, she has been reporting from Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal but has not reported from within Indian borders, since the cancellation of her work permit in October 2022.
Official Statement of Vanessa Dougnac:
I have been informed of a story published by The Print today titled “French journalist issued notice for withdrawal of OCI Card over ‘malicious’ reporting, visa violations” which claims to be based upon accessing a notice issued by the Government also speaking to sources about the matter.
Besides stating that the journalist is French, it also states that the journalist is married to an Indian and living in India for 22 years, but it does not reveal a name. However, since there are no other French journalists registered as an OCI, married to an Indian citizen, and living in India for 22 years other than myself, the story has made it amply clear to any person within the journalistic fraternity (and even beyond), that it pertains to me.
I would like to state at the outset that the story was published without attempting to speak to me for comment or informing me that it may be published. I have since been contacted by journalists from within India and abroad and find myself the subject of intense scrutiny and caught in a media frenzy.
Having been thrust into the spotlight unwillingly by this reporting of a deeply private matter, I am compelled to issue this brief statement at this point of time. I can confirm that I have received a notice from the concerned department of the Government of India, and that I deny all the allegations and imputations made therein against me and my conduct. India is my home, a country which I deeply love and respect, and I have never engaged in any acts that are in any manner prejudicial to Indian interests as is being alleged.
There is a legal process to deal with such matters with which I shall cooperate. As the legal process is ongoing and the issues are pending consideration before the concerned authorities, I would request that the process is allowed to run its course and my privacy is respected during this time.