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India denies visa to British journalist Yvonne Ridley

Posted on Jan 14, 10:26AM | IANS

India has denied award-winning British journalist Yvonne Ridley a visa. She was scheduled to address the Spring of Islam conference being held here by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

The London-based journalist, who was captured by the Taliban on an undercover assignment in Afghanistan in 2001 and converted to Islam after her release in 2003, was to address various sessions at the three-day conference, which began Friday.

"The Indian Government is refusing to give me a conference visa to address 50,000 women in Hyderabad about women's rights ... I would have thought after the catastrophic handling of the Dehli rape case, politicians would be more sensitive, but it seems not. We women continue to be sidelined and treated as second class citizens," she said in her post on Facebook.

Ridley, through video conference, addressed three sessions of girls, women and journalists.

"The Indian government knows how powerful words are. That is why I am sitting in the UK today talking to you instead of being with you to deliver this speech in person," she said, addressing the session of journalists Saturday.

Khalid Mubashir-ul-Zafar, president of Jamaat-e-Islami's Hyderabad unit, said Ridely was given all necessary clearances by the external affairs ministry, but was denied visa in the last minute because of the tense situation in Hyderabad.

There was tension in the city Friday after a group of people staged protests in the old city over the arrest of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader and legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi for his alleged hate speech.

Ridley was also denied a visa when she planned a trip to Kerala in 2010 to address a Muslim women's conference organised by the Jamaat.