Support branch member Amitt Bhatt Stand up to racism

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February 20, 2017 by NUJMcrSalford

Branch member investigative journalist Amitt Bhatt will talk about his campaign to seek asylum in the UK after fleeing India at our next film event: blackpower

Black Power Mix Tape.Saturday, February 25 at Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JG.

Doors open 13:30 – film start about 14:00 Tickets are £4 on entry (this is to cover venue and film licence costs). Licensed bar and refreshments available.

All welcome. You don’t have to be a journalist or a member of the NUJ.

 

Amitt’s journalistic activities, and specifically his investigations into government corruption, put him under threat. The lack of safety for journalists in India is a serious concern to the NUJ, our sister unions in the country and the International Federation of Journalists. Amitt’s journalistic activities would make him particularly vulnerable given the current situation in India.amitt

Amitt, who is 44, is a Kashmiri Pandit, a native Hindu of the Kashmir valley. He has written three books about human rights abuses in Kashmir – Cryashmir; Lies and Genocides of the Indian Government; and Kashmiri Pandits – Victims of Betrayal and Deception by the Indian Government. An attempt is currently being made, through a case in the Indian courts, to ban two of his books.

Amitt trained and worked as an electronics engineer but started to write articles as a freelance journalist to raise wider awareness about government corruption. Like many journalists in India, Amitt was persecuted and threatened because of his work. Following the publication of his second book about Kashmir, he was arrested by the Indian police in early February 2011 and tortured and beaten until his escape from detention in mid March 2011. After this, he went into hiding for three years, moving frequently around the country. In April 2014, he left India and claimed asylum in the UK.

Amitt’s wife Manjeet was also threatened because of his work and was forced to leave India in March 2011 to seek safety in the UK. After the publication of Amitt’s second book in January 2011, his friend investigative journalist Umesh Rajput was shot dead by two masked men on motorcycles.

Amitt has been examined by a doctor with the Medical Foundation North West who has produced a report confirming that old scars on his body are consistent with his accounts of beatings and torture.

The IFJ, NUJI and IJU say there is “a culture of violence against the media in the country”. The Committee to Protect Journalists has also voiced concern about the dangers faced by journalists in India, saying they are attacked and murdered with impunity. Coverage of Kashmir continues to be difficult for journalists.

In October 2016 the NUJ nationally issued a supporting statement for Amitt Bhatt.

Amitt is a member of the Manchester and Salford NUJ branch and an investigative journalist, writer and human rights activist. Amitt is seeking asylum in the UK on human rights grounds, after fleeing India after his journalistic activities, and specifically his investigations into government corruption, put him under threat.

He is a Hindu from the Kashmir valley and has written three books about human rights abuses in Kashmir: Cryashmir; Lies and Genocides of the Indian Government; and Kashmiri Pandits – Victims of Betrayal and Deception by the Indian Government.

An attempt is currently being made, through a case in the Indian courts, to ban two of his books. Following the publication of his second book about Kashmir, he was arrested by the Indian police in early February 2011 and tortured and beaten until his escape from detention in mid-March 2011. After this, he went into hiding for three years, moving frequently around the country. In April 2014, he left India and claimed asylum in the UK.

Amitt’s wife Manjeet was also threatened because of his work and was forced to leave India in March 2011.

The lack of safety for journalists in India is a serious concern to the NUJ, our sister unions in the country and the International Federation of Journalists. Amitt’s journalistic activities would make him particularly vulnerable given the current situation in India.

The IFJ has recorded numerous incidents against journalists in India including threats and intimidation, harassment, kidnapping, murder, torture, extra-judicial killings, false criminal and sedition cases, and unlawful censorship.

We are also aware of the authorities acting with impunity against journalists including unlawful detention, killings, disappearances and there is a deliberate absence of justice for the perpetrators by the police and other security agencies.

For these reasons we are pressing for Amitt to remain in the UK and to enable him to continue his journalistic career without fear of threats or retaliation.

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