Pillai to be taken off no-fly list but govt to keep watch

The government’s decision to strike her name off the no-fly list is a climbdown on its rigid stand against Greenpeace and other foreign NGOs.

Written by Vijaita Singh | New Delhi | Updated: February 12, 2015 5:50 am

The government is all set to remove the name of Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who was offloaded from a flight to London at the IGI airport last month, from the “no-fly” list, sources in the government said. They, however, said the NGO will continue to be under watch and they will be stopped in future too if it was found that they were going to present a negative image of the country.

Pillai’s name was included in the “no-fly” list after a lookout circular was issued against her on January 9 on the request of Intelligence Bureau (IB) amid speculation that she would indulge in anti-India propaganda on the Mahan coal block issue in a foreign country.

Pillai was to fly to London to address a group of British parliamentarians on the issue. “It was only for that particular visit that her name was put on that list. If today, she wants to go to any other country, she is free to do so. Their activities will, however, continue to be under watch,” said a senior home ministry official.

The government’s decision to strike her name off the no-fly list is a climbdown on its rigid stand against Greenpeace and other foreign NGOs.

After she was offloaded on January 11, Pillai had filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, challenging the lookout circular as “illegal and arbitrary”. The next date of hearing is February 18 when the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will file an affidavit detailing the circumstances and the anti-India image that she was going to present in front of the British parliamentarians, which is as good as deposing before the UK government.

As reported by The Indian Express earlier, the lookout circular against Pillai was opened using a 2011 internal office order issued by MHA that gave IB more power in “exceptional cases” and under the “etc” category. Since there was no criminal case against Pillai, and she could not have been put under the category of terrorists, her case was put under the “etc” category. The lookout circular against was opened on January 9 on the request of assistant director of IB.

A senior official said, “The testimonies of these activists are used to send out a negative image of India in foreign countries. We are keeping a watch on activists who try to project India in poor light in front of foreign individuals. Their movement and other activities will be watched by us.”

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  1. H
    Feb 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm
    Such "Activists" need to be de-Activated. They survive on foreign doles, malign India internationally
  2. j
    Feb 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm
    Greenpeace should sue the Government of India as their member was deprived of her freedom to fly to a country of her choice. In the name of development India's fragile environment needs to be sauarded from the greed of industries and mining interests. Once our pristine forests are destro we will never get them back. The Government should place the environment at the top of its agenda.
  3. j
    Feb 12, 2015 at 12:59 pm
    The Government was wrong to prevent a member of Greenpeace from boarding a flight. The issue of freedom is at stake. Furthermore, protecting our fragile ecosystem is at stake and this should be at the top of the Government's agenda . Greenpeace is in the forefront on protecting the environment in many countries all over the world and doing a great job.