No legal compulsions on campaigner barring her from leaving the country

New Delhi, 12 January 2015: A day after Greenpeace Senior Campaigner Priya Pillai was ‘offloaded’ and barred from leaving the country she has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to media reports, Pillai was forbidden from leaving India because of a ‘lookout circular’ against her.

A ‘lookout circular’ is generally issued against criminals barred from leaving the country because they might abscond. Pillai has no criminal convictions and was traveling to London to make a speech to British MPs.

Priya Pillai with the community in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh


“It is bizarre that the government chooses to inform the media about an alleged lookout circular against me which I have no knowledge of. I have been dedicatedly working for the rights of the most marginalised communities in the country and protecting the environment. Does this lead to issuing of a circular that is meant for offenders?” asks Pillai.

Yesterday, Pillai was stopped at the New Delhi airport by the immigration office and was barred from getting onboard her flight to London in spite of having a valid business visa. Pillai was scheduled to address British Parliamentarians on 14th January on the rights of forest communities being infringed for coal mining in India by London-based Essar Energy.

She was informed by the immigration officials that she is now banned from leaving India. Though she has been a part of peaceful protests, she has no criminal convictions against her. Her bail bond does not have a single condition that bars her from travelling outside India. “Then why am I being singled out? I demand the authorities in the MHA to furnish the appropriate reasons and refrain from conducting a media trial. As a proud citizen of India, it is my democratic right to know why there is a restriction on my freedom of speech and movement,” an angry Pillai demanded an answer.

Greenpeace India has also written to the Ministry of Home and External Affairs and to the Airport Authority of India following yesterday’s incident and they are still to hear from any of the authorities.

Priya Pillai’s prohibition from leaving the country has come as a shock to everyone who stands up for rights and peaceful activism. She holds a background in campaigning for people’s rights in India. Greenpeace awaits response from the Ministry of Home and External Affairs and Airport Authority of India now.

Donate to Greenpeace

Donate today or consider remembering Greenpeace in your Will.

Get Involved