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Friday, December 3, 2021

Indian Embassy in Qatar draws ire over media ban on public sessions



In a move that has drawn criticism from the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, the Indian Embassy in Qatar is now prohibiting journalists from attending its monthly Open House sessions.

According to a press release sent to the Peninsula, the mission said that “Salient information would be sent to the media after the Open House.”

When reached for the comment, an embassy representative confirmed to Doha News that journalists would no longer be allowed to attend the meetings, but said that she “had no idea” why the ban had been instituted.

Typically, members of the Indian expat community in Qatar spend the meetings airing grievances and asking for support from their consular representatives. For the majority of Indians and those interested in their issues who do not attend the sessions, articles explaining what was discussed have been helpful.

In response to the new rule, DCMF Director Jan Keulen said in a Facebook post:

“Strange idea of transparency of the official representatives of India. Indians represent the biggest community in Qatar with more than half a million citizens. They have the right to be independently and fully informed. Just a press release won’t do.

Embassy really shows contempt for the work of local (Qatari) media and for the right of access to information of their own countrymen.”

The Indian Embassy has tussled with media before. In July, the Peninsula ran a story criticizing the open houses, saying:

“Only one Indian turned up at the monthly ‘open house’ of the Indian embassy here yesterday lending credence to criticism in the Indian expatriate community that the once-popular forum had gradually turned into a farce and a big joke.”

The embassy hit back the next day, calling the insinuations “baseless” and saying it offers a range of services to help distressed Indians, in addition the open house sessions.

The next session is on Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30pm. Thoughts?


Credit: Photo by Rajiv Bajaj

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