The US-based Journalist Mark Scialla who was detained after interviewing people around the Sterlite plant in Tuticorin has now been asked to leave India after it was found he has contravened rules of a tourist visa.
“The notice was issued as we confirmed that he violated his visa norms. He started from Tuticorin on Tuesday evening and will fly to the USA from Hyderabad,” Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha, who is also the FRO of Tuticorin was quoted by Times of India. He also added that they are trying to blacklist the journalist at Foreigners Regional Registration Office in Chennai. The journalist was given 48 hours to leave.
Earlier it was reported that Mark, who has worked as freelance journalist for The Guardian and Al Jazeera, was found interviewing people around the copper smelting plant of Vedanta Group in Tuticorin. He, reportedly also met people claiming to be victims of the May 2018 firing, in which 11 protestors were killed by police. He had also inquired about the ‘health condition’ of the inhabitants around the plant, and if whether there were improvements after the closing of the plant, last year. He was accompanied by, anti-Sterlite activist Prince Cardoza, who acted as his interpreter.
According to police, he has admitted to making a documentary, which is in violation of his tourist visa norms. Police currently is also questioning the activists from the anti-Sterlite group. Mark had checked in a nearby hotel on December 27, last year. Mark also confessed that he was making a news documentary, but he claimed that he has not dispersed any information related to plant to any journal. According to police, no other charges have been registered against the scribe.
Police have also summoned activists Prince Cardoza, Fatima Babu, Raja and Regan who were in contact with Mark during his stay at Tuticorin and reportedly helped him by taking him to the people and working as his translators.
The Tamil Nadu government had shut down the Sterlite plant at Tuticorin after protests against it led to violent clashed between the police and protestors in May 2018. Later, the National Green Tribunal had ordered the re-opening of the plant claiming that the closure order was unjustified. The Madras High Court has ordered status quo over the plant and the issue will now be taken up in the Supreme Court on January 8.