NEW DELHI, Sept 4 - The Centre on Wednesday clarified that any foreign journalist, whether based in India or not, can visit Assam after taking permission from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
A spokesman of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today said the matter is consulted internally by the MEA before issuing such permission. �There is no Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) in the State of Assam. Thus no PAP or RAP is needed by a foreign journalist,� the spokesman clarified.
Meanwhile, MEA sources quoted Para 82 of a 2018 MHA notification that lays out the procedure for grant of permission to visit restricted and protected areas, Jammu & Kashmir and the northeastern states on a journalist visa.
A foreign journalist or TV cameraperson, already based in India, who desires to visit a restricted or protected area or Jammu & Kashmir or the northeastern states, should apply for a special permit through the Ministry of External Affairs (External Publicity Division).
If any such request is received directly by a state government, or any other authority empowered to issue a special permit, the application shall be referred to the External Publicity Division with a copy to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
A foreign journalist coming to India on a short-term visit and desiring to go to a restricted and protected area or Jammu & Kashmir or the northeastern states is advised to apply for a permit in the prescribed form through an Indian Mission, the notification released by the MEA said.
However, a couple of months ago the MEA circulated a notification issued by the Bureau of Immigration under the Ministry of Home Affairs among all foreign journalists based in India.
The notification listed out states of Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim in the Northeast as protected areas. The restricted areas included Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Assam was not included in the list and was neither in protected area nor restricted area list.
However, the latest notification circulated by the MEA mentions that foreign journalists based in India, desiring to visit a restricted or protected area or Jammu & Kashmir or the northeastern states should apply for a special permit through the Ministry of External Affairs.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry has dismissed reports that Assam has been declared protected area and foreign journalists were asked to leave the State. The MHA called the reports �incorrect�.