A few days ago, New Zealand vlogger Karl Rock was blacklisted by the Indian authorities for violation of multiple visa norms.
“New Zealand origin vlogger Karl Rock has been blacklisted by the Government of India for violating multiple visa norms, he was found doing business on a tourist visa, he is barred for one year, his visa is cancelled,” MHA official told ANI.
The vlogger had claimed that the government added him to the blacklist without giving him a reason after he left India to travel to Dubai and Pakistan, thereby separating him from his wife and family in New Delhi.
“Before someone is added to the blacklist they’re meant to be given the reason, and time to reply,” he said, adding, “I wasn’t”.
Rock maintains that he has been unfairly targeted by the Indian government. After being denied a visa for India, the vlogger took to social media platforms to start an online petition, alleging that the Indian government stopped him from entering the country by unjustly adding his name to the ministry of home affairs’ blacklist.
“I left India to go travel Dubai and Pakistan in October 2020 and upon leaving they cancelled my visa at the airport. They wouldn’t tell me why. So, in Dubai, I applied for a new visa. They called me in for a meeting and told me I had been blacklisted and, therefore, they couldn’t issue me a visa to go home,” Rock wrote in his petition.
On his YouTube channel, Rock posted a video sharing that the Indian government had allegedly blacklisted him and blocked his entry to the country. His wife, an Indian national who lives in Delhi, has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the move. On Friday, Rock uploaded a YouTube video titled ‘Why I haven’t seen my wife in 269 days’, where he claimed he has been separated from his wife and in-laws because he was blacklisted by the Indian government.
While Rock cried himself hoarse and accuses the Indian government of subjecting him to injustice, it is worth revisiting his antics from the last few months that may have played a role in the cancellation of his visa by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
New Zealand vlogger Karl Rock and his wife attended anti-CAA protest
For years now, Rock fashioned himself as some sort of know-it-all, posting videos on everything under the sun—from reviewing various Indian delicacies to travel destinations across the country, to a wide array of cultures and traditions that are followed by multitudes of inhabitants across the expanse of this country and sundry other things.
A few months after he started uploading vlogs on YouTube, he shifted his focus on uncovering different ‘scams’ taking place in the country. In an overwhelming number of videos uploaded on his YouTube channel, which has about 1.8 million subscribers, Rock created awareness among people about the methods and modus operandi adopted by scammers to perpetuate their criminal activities.
However, in December 2019, when the country was convulsed with the anti-CAA protests, Rock and his wife visited one of such demonstrations. The vlogger even took to Twitter to inform his followers that he has attended an anti-CAA protest and posted a video about the demonstrations on his YouTube channel.
But following the visa fiasco, he made his YouTube video private, which means viewers can’t watch it. However, when it was published, a large number of people had reacted against him. Some of them had even posted videos on YouTube, educating him how he was wrong about the CAA.
In the video that has now been made private, Karl Rock and his wife are seen attending an anti-CAA protest. The duo rants against the Citizenship Amendment Act and wrongly brands it as a law that discriminates against people based on their religion. They also call the Modi government a ‘right-wing’ government bent on turning the country into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The video is replete with misinformation and lies that fuels apprehensions about the new Citizenship Amendment Act, which is simply meant for fast-tracking the naturalisation process of minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who had fled persecution from their respective countries and sought refuge in India on or before 31 December 2014.
It does not even affect the citizenship of Indian, irrespective of their religion.
The New Zealand vlogger had been involved in both subtle and brazen anti-India propaganda from the start. In his video, he posted a ground report video wherein he participated in the anti-CAA protests against the Indian government. Despite being well aware that foreign nationals cannot take part in political movements, he went ahead violating his visa rules.
Karl Rock’s suspicious visit to Pakistan and PoK after participating in anti-CAA protests
Intriguingly, just after participating in the anti-CAA protests that ultimately led to the horrifying anti-Hindu pogrom in Delhi in February 2020, Rock had travelled to neighbouring Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK). He spent months in Pakistan and PoK, visiting various places and posting about his experience on his YouTube channel.
Though as a traveller he has a right to visit places that interests him, the timing of his visit to PoK, which happened right after he attended the anti-CAA protests in India, is particularly suspicious and raises doubts on whether he was doing ISI’s bidding in spreading propaganda on the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Curiously enough, Karl’s visit to Pakistan also raises eyebrows because three years back, he had abruptly left the country after he thought the ISI was watching him and suspecting him of being a spy.
He had said that he was constantly under surveillance during his Pakistan visit in 2018, and due to this he became so paranoid that he had to end the visit early. On 22 May 2018, he had posted a video, where he had said that he was feeling very paranoid because Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency was watching him after he had crossed the border on foot.
But just a couple of years after he claimed ISI suspected him to be a spy, Rock had no apprehensions in visiting Pakistan yet again. In fact, he not only visited Pakistan but also went to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK), a region considered to be one of the most sensitive areas under the control of Pakistan.
It is also worth noting that Karl Rock’s recent visit to Pakistan has been much more extensive than his previous visit to Pakistan in 2018 if videos uploaded by him on his YouTube channel are anything to go by. Rock’s YouTube channel is rife with his videos from places he visited in Pakistan during his latest visit. Rock had visited a ton of places in Pakistan, including the electronics market in Lahore, a Ram Temple, a video game market, restaurants and other places. Besides Lahore, he has been to other cities in Pakistan as well such as Multan, and even the rural areas.
The New Zealand vlogger had also visited Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, the birthplace of Sikh Guru Nanak Dev. In 2019, Rock had uploaded a video in which his wife, Manisha, was seen visiting Dera Baba Nanak through the Kartarpur Corridor, a project that Pakistan claims was built to facilitate Sikhs in India to visit the hallowed Gurudwara but analysts believe it was done to revive Khalistani terrorism. Shortly after the Corridor was thrown open in November last year, there has been a sharp uptick in Khalistani sentiments in the country, with its most ugly manifestation witnessed during the farmers’ protests in India, where Khalistani elements carried pictures of terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and shouted slogans in support of Khalistan.
These inconsistencies naturally add to the growing cloud of suspicions surrounding Karl’s visit and raise questions about his real motives behind visiting Pakistan and PoK. Did he really feel threatened during his visit to Pakistan in 2018 as claimed by him in his videos? Or was it just a smokescreen put up to avoid prying Indian agencies from probing his possible links to ISI? Why did Karl participate in anti-CAA protests even though it amounted to flagrant violation of visa norms? Was he acting at the behest of an external destabilising force when he attended an anti-CAA protest and released a propaganda video on the same to further unrest in the country?
While his participation in the anti-CAA protests may be sufficient grounds for the cancellation of his visa, the aforementioned questions highlight the murky activities he was possibly involved in, which may have inevitably influenced the government’s decision of restricting him from entering India.