Diplomatic Tensions Rise Over French Journalist Vanessa Dougnac’s OCI Card Threat

OCI Card Threat
Image courtesy: shethepeople

French President Emmanuel Macron‘s recent visit to India concluded with a looming shadow over diplomatic proceedings, as concerns emerged regarding the potential expulsion of French journalist Vanessa Dougnac. Dougnac, based in Delhi since 2001 and working for La Croix, faces bureaucratic complications as the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) issued her a notice.

India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra clarified that the issue revolves around Dougnac’s adherence to established norms rather than her journalistic endeavors. The notice, dated January 18, questions why her Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card should not be revoked, citing undisclosed violations of regulations.

The controversy centers on various reasons mentioned in the notice, including alleged “malicious” reporting creating a “negative perception” of India, infractions like inciting disorder, and reporting on neighboring countries without permission. Kwatra emphasized that India aims to ensure individuals’ compliance with its rules and regulations.

Vanessa Dougnac responded, denying all allegations and expressing commitment to the legal process. Around 30 foreign correspondents based in India, representing media outlets such as Le Monde, The New York Times, and The Guardian, signed an open letter expressing “deep concern” over the notice. They emphasized Dougnac’s role as a highly regarded senior journalist covering South Asia.

Visa restrictions, especially for individuals with OCI card status, have increased in recent years, complicated further by new administrative requirements introduced in 2021. Foreign correspondents highlight the potential impact on Dougnac’s livelihood and family life, urging Indian authorities to consider the vital role of a free press in alignment with democratic traditions.

Diplomatic channels between France and India are actively addressing the issue, with assurances from Indian authorities that the matter is being handled diligently. The foreign correspondents hope for a swift resolution and stress the importance of facilitating the essential work of a free press in India.

Re-reported from the article originally published in The shethepeople

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