Australian Journalist’s Visa Controversy: A Case of Misunderstanding

Avani Dias

New Delhi: In a recent development, official sources have clarified the circumstances surrounding Australian journalist Avani Dias’s departure from India, countering her claims of being barred from election coverage. Dias, who served as the South Asia correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), left India on April 19. Contrary to her assertions made on Tuesday, the Indian government’s decision not to extend her visa was not due to her reporting being deemed “unacceptable.”

Upon investigation, it was revealed that Dias had breached certain visa regulations during her professional engagements. Nonetheless, she was reassured that her visa would be renewed to allow her to report on the general elections, with her existing visa remaining valid until April 20. “The allegations made by Dias that she was prohibited from covering the elections and compelled to exit India are baseless, deceptive, and ill-intentioned,” stated an official source.

It was further noted that Dias had settled her visa fee on April 18, which led to an immediate extension of her visa until the end of June. Despite this, Dias chose to depart from India on April 20, while still in possession of a valid visa. The source emphasized that Dias’s claim of being denied election coverage is factually incorrect, as all holders of journalist visas are permitted to report on election-related activities outside polling stations.

Avani Dias

The source also mentioned that authorization letters are mandatory solely for entry into polling stations and counting centers. It is noteworthy that ABC’s other correspondents, Meghna Bali and Som Patidar, have already been granted the necessary authorization for their coverage.