Australian Journalist Avani Dias Leaves India After Visa Denial Because Her Work 'Crossed A Line', Govt Sources Call Claim 'Misleading'

Avani Dias alleged that the "Modi government" told her that her visa extension would be denied, saying her "reporting crossed a line".

Avani Dias is the South Asia Bureau Chief for Australian broadcasting firm ABC News

Avani Dias, the South Asia Bureau Chief for Australian broadcasting firm, ABC News has claimed that she had to leave India on April 19 after being denied a visa extension by the Indian government because her reporting “crossed a line”, an allegation that has been termed 'misleading' by official sources .

Taking to microblogging platform X, Avani Dias said while she obtained a visa extension for two months after “intervention from the Australian government”, it was just 24 hours before her flight out of India.

“Last week, I had to leave India abruptly. The Modi Government told me my visa extension would be denied, saying my reporting “crossed a line”. After Australian Government intervention, I got a mere two-month extension …less than 24 hours before my flight,” Dias said in her post on X, formerly Twitter.

“We were also told my election accreditation would not come through because of an Indian Ministry directive. We left on day one of voting in the national election in what Modi calls “the mother of democracy”.

Meanwhile, ABC News said in its statement that Dias was informed of the decision to deny her a visa extension “via a phone call from an official at the Ministry of External Affairs, who said her most recent Foreign Correspondent episode ‘crossed a line'”.

This came after a report by Dias on the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada was blocked on YouTube in India, the media organisation said.

Avani Dias's Claim 'Misleading': Sources

Official sources, meanwhile, said on Tuesday, April 23, that Australian journalist Avani Dias's contention that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave India is not correct and is misleading.

Dias was found to have violated visa rules while undertaking her professional pursuits, the sources cited in a news agency PTI report said.

In spite of this, on her request, she was assured that her visa would be extended for the coverage of the general elections, the sources said, adding her previous visa was valid till April 20.

"The contention of Avani Dias, the South Asia Correspondent of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave the country is not correct, misleading and mischievous," a source said was quoted as saying in the report. The sources said Dias paid the visa fee on April 18 and her visa was extended till June-end the same day.

She, however, chose to leave India on April 20, they said, adding that at the time of her departure she held a valid visa and her extension of visa stood approved. Her point about not been given permission to cover elections is also factually incorrect, the sources said.

Coverage of election activities outside of booths is permitted to all Journalist Visa holders, they added.

In February this year, French journalist Vanessa Dougnac alleged she was forced to leave India over her "malicious" articles that were harming "the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India".

"Today, I am leaving India, the country where I came 25 years ago as a student, and where I have worked for 23 years as a journalist. The place where I married, raised my son, and which I call my home," Dougnac, the South Asia Correspondent for French publications La Croix and Le Point, Swiss newspaper Le Temps and Belgian daily Le Soir, had said in a statement.