“Please find below my statement.

I am writing these words in tears. Today, I am leaving India, the country where I came 25 years ago as a student, and where I have worked for 23 years as a journalist. The place where I married, raised my son, and which I call my home.

Leaving is not my choice.

I am being forced to leave by the Government of India. Sixteen months ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs denied my right to work as a journalist, providing no reasons nor justifications, and no hearing. Since then, the Ministry has not once responded to my repeated requests for explanations or review of this arbitrary action. Last month, I was sent a notice that accused me and my articles of being “malicious”, of harming “the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India” and required me to respond to why my Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card should not be cancelled. The notice further claimed that my articles could “provoke disorder and disturb peace”.

Today, I am unable to work and have been unfairly accused of prejudicing the interests of the state. It has become clear that I cannot keep living in India and earning my livelihood. I am fighting these accusations before the competent forums and I have full faith in the legal process. But I can’t afford to wait for its outcome. The proceedings with respect to my OCI status have shattered me, especially now that I see them as part of a wider effort by the Government of India to curb dissent from the OCI community. The authorities had earlier suggested I should change my profession. But I am a journalist, a profession that I hold dear to my heart, and I cannot agree to give it up because of unproven accusations.

I would like to thank all the individuals, friends, and colleagues from the journalist fraternity who reached out to me to show their support.

I am immensely grateful for the extraordinary 23 years I spent as a journalist in India. I led a life filled with adventures and interactions across the subcontinent, and had the opportunity to witness over two decades of India’s history. Being a foreign correspondent in India seeking to share with my French-speaking readers the complexity and richness of this country, was a privilege and an honor. I will cherish the memories I have of the warmth of the people and the beauty of this immense region. Delhi was my beloved city, where I lived my life.

To bid farewell to it now is a tremendous sorrow.I hope I will be able to come back to India, one day.”

Vanessa Dougnac, Former South Asia Correspondent for La Croix, Le Point, Le Temps, Le Soir

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