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Letter from US Academics Re. Richard Shapiro’s Denial of Entry to India

27 November 2010

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Her Excellency Ms Meera Shankar
- Ambassador of India to the United States of America
- 2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
- Washington, DC 20008
- USA

November 10, 2010

Re.: Denial of Entry to Academics

Dear Ms Shankar:

We the undersigned, concerned academics and activists, are troubled by the recent denial of entry to Professor Richard Shapiro, a US citizen and the Chair of the Anthropology Department at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the decision to deny his entry (see Scholar’s At Risk Letter: http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Events-News/Article-Detail.php?art_uid=2454).

Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid tourist visa. Reports indicate that he was not given any reason for why he was prevented from meeting with his family who are already in India, which has led many to suspect that the primary reason he is being targeted is because of the work of his partner, Professor Angana Chatterji, who is the co-convener of the Indian People’s Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK).

We are worried by two simultaneous developments that are both disconcerting for academics and troubling for people of conscience throughout the world. First, refusing to allow academics to travel freely in India and preventing them from seeing their families can only be seen as an abuse of authority and a violation of people’s fundamental rights. Using family members as bargaining chips to dissuade academics and activists from engaging in dialogue and the free exchange of ideas because the subject matter at hand (in this instance, Kashmir) is embarrassing to the Indian government and is not only unethical but also illegal. What has happened to Richard Shapiro and Angana Chatterji is merely the most recent in a long line of abuses against activists and academics working on Kashmir: Arundhati Roy, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez (to name a few).

Secondly, the Indian government continues to isolate Kashmir by systematically intimidating activists, blocking journalists, preventing media and electronic communication, and cracking down on democratic freedoms in Kashmir. As the military governance of Kashmir continues, the Indian government seems bent on devising ever new ways to keep the people of Kashmir from making their case to the international community. Not only is India’s use of military force against its own population disturbing, but there are no real avenues for Kashmiris to address their long-standing grievances with the Indian state. Preventing activists and academics from reaching Kashmir only makes the situation worse.

Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values of all academic communities. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among academic colleagues. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange.

Public reports that Professor Shapiro was denied without reason permission to enter India to accompany his wife as she pursues academic work there suggests that these rights have not been respected. Moreover, in the absence of any publicly expressed, legitimate grounds for doing so, the apparent restricting of Professor Shapiro’s entry despite his possession of a valid visa and entry stamp raises uncertainty not only about his ability to engage with colleagues in his field in India, but also about the ability of other scholars to plan for and undertake visits and research in India.

So, we call upon the Government of India to:

  • Revoke the entry ban on Richard Shapiro from India.
  • Stop the obstruction of IPTK’s work.
  • End barring without due cause.
  • Support democratic processes in Kashmir.

Sincerely,

  1. Dr Karen Leonard, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
  2. Dr. Abdul JanMohamed, Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
  3. Dr. Ania Loomba, Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
  4. Dr. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, Department of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
  5. Dr. Aradhana Sharma, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Feminist Studies, Wesleyan University
  6. Dr. Ayesha Jalal, Professor, Department of History, Tufts University
  7. Dr. Brian Strauss, Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin
  8. Dr. C.M. Naim, Professor Emeritus, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
  9. Dr. Constance A. Jones, Professor, Transformative Inquiry Department, California Institute of Integral Studies
  10. Dr. David Gordon White, University of California, Santa Barbara
  11. Dr. David Naguib Pellow, Professor, Sociology, University of Minnesota
  12. Dr. Gauri Viswanathan, Professor, English, Columbia University
  13. Dr. Gautam Ghosh, Lecturer, University of Otago
  14. Dr. Gautam Premnath, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
  15. Dr. Helen Scott, Associate Professor, English, University of Vermont
  16. Dr. Janet Sorensen, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
  17. Dr. Jasbir Puar, Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  18. Dr. Jenny Sharpe, Professor, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles
  19. Dr. Jyoti Puri, Professor, Department of Sociology, Simmons College
  20. Dr. Katherine Snyder, Associate Professor, English, University of California, Berkeley
  21. Dr. Kavita Philip, Associate Professor, Department of Women?s Studies, University of California, Irvine
  22. Dr. Kristin Hanson, Associate Professor, English, University of California, Berkeley
  23. Dr. Malini Johar Schueller, Professor, Department of English, University of Florida
  24. Dr. Margo Ramlal-Nankoe, Sociology, Western Connecticut State University
  25. Dr. Matthew C. Bronson, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies.
  26. Dr. Meg Jordan, Chair, Professor, Integrative Health Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies
  27. Dr. Mona Mehdy, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Texas, Austin
  28. Dr. Narendra Subramanian, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, McGill University
  29. Dr. Neepa Majumdar, Associate Professor, English and Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh
  30. Dr. Partha Chatterjee, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
  31. Dr. Philip Gasper, Madison Area Technical College
  32. Dr. Piya Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Riverside
  33. Dr. Pranav Jani, Assistant Professor, English, The Ohio State University
  34. Dr. Purnima Bose, Associate Professor, English, Indiana University
  35. Dr. Rachel Schurman, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  36. Dr. Radhika Parameswaran, Associate Professor, Journalism, Indiana University
  37. Dr. Roli Varma, Profesor, School of Public Administration, University of New Mexico
  38. Dr. Sabina Sawhney, Department of English, Hofstra University, New York
  39. Dr. Simona Sawhney, Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota
  40. Dr. Snehal Shingavi, Assistant Professor, English, University of Texas, Austin
  41. Dr. Sue Schweik, Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
  42. Dr. Sunaina Maira, Professor, Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis
  43. Dr. Suvir Kaul, Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
  44. Dr. Tandy Warnow, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Texas, Austin
  45. Dr. Yogita Goyal, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles
  46. Charlotte Nunes, Assistant Instructor, Department of English, University of Texas, Austin
  47. Nandini Dhar, PhD candidate, English, University of Texas, Austin
  48. Anindya Dey, PhD candidate, Physics, University of Texas, Austin
  49. David Forrest, PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota
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