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.”