In lieu of a glorifying article on herself in the New Yorker, controversial journalist Rana Ayyub illegally smuggled a foreign journalist in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir to report on the situation in the valley in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370. Journalist Dexter Filkins, in his latest article on the New Yorker, brazenly admits that he was illegally snuck into Kashmir by Ayyub.
Filkins writes that he was invited by Rana Ayyub to Mumbai, from where they would try to get into Kashmir in blatant disregard to the Indian government’s order banning the foreign correspondents in Kashmir. The scribe mentions that Rana handed him a pair of scarves and told him to buy a kurta, the typical Indian tunic, to ‘disguise’ himself as an Indian. “I am ninety-nine per cent sure you will be caught, but you should come anyway. Just don’t open your mouth,” Filkins quoted Rana in his article.
Filkins further mentions in the article that when they landed at the Srinagar airport, Rana hustled him away without getting him enrolled at the “Registration for Foreigners” desk. Taking advantage of the milling policemen and commotion at the airport, Filkins and Rana made it to the curb without being noticed and vamoosed for Srinagar.
This act by Rana and Filkins clearly violated the laws mandated by the Indian Government. According to Foreigners Order 1958, foreign nationals, tourists as well as journalists, required prior government permit to enter “restricted areas” or “protected areas”. These areas include Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. According to Ministry of External Affairs, foreign journalists wishing to travel to restricted or protected areas have to simultaneously apply to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the prescribed format and to XP Division on plain paper for permission. The permission is given by MHA in consultation with XP Division.
Filkins, as evident from his confession, clearly did not apply for the permit and relied on Rana’s sleight of hand to get past the registration desk and enter Kashmir illegally.
In the wake of the annulment of Article 370, as a precautionary measure to tackle the misinformation spread by journalists with motivated agenda, the Indian government set up desks at the Srinagar airport to facilitate the entry of those foreign journalists who had legitimately secured the government permit to enter Kashmir. However, with Filkins not having the requisite permission, Rana obliged him with her chicanery at the Airport terminal and smuggled him into Kashmir. Showing zero regard for law of the land, Rana Ayyub illegally helped a foreign journalist sneak into Kashmir.
Filkins honoured the symbiotic relationship between the two devious journalists by writing an adulatory article dedicated to Rana Ayyub. Through this article, Filkins sought to legitimise the distortions, lies and illusions peddled by Rana Ayyub while displaying a haughty disregard for the facts. He showered unmitigated praise for Rana Ayyub’s controversial book-‘Gujarat Files’, the book which was trashed by the Supreme Court of India as a book based on conjectures, surmises and suppositions.