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Australian journalist's claim that she was forced to leave India not correct: Sources

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (PTI) Australian journalist Avani Dias's contention that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave India is not correct and is misleading, official sources said on Tuesday.

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The South Asia correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, who left India on April 19, claimed on Tuesday that she was denied an extension of her visa by the Indian government because of her reports "crossed a line".

Dias was found to have violated visa rules while undertaking her professional pursuits, the sources said.

In spite of this, on her request, she was assured that her visa would be extended for the coverage of the general elections, the sources said, adding her previous visa was valid till April 20.

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"The contention of Avani Dias, the South Asia Correspondent of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), that she was not allowed to cover elections and was compelled to leave the country is not correct, misleading and mischievous," a source said.

The sources said Dias paid the visa fee on April 18 and her visa was extended till June-end the same day.

She, however, chose to leave India on April 20, they said adding at the time of her departure she held a valid visa and her extension of visa stood approved.

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Her point about not been given permission to cover elections is also factually incorrect, the sources said.

Coverage of election activities outside of booths is permitted to all Journalist Visa holders, they added.

"Authority letters are required only for access to polling booths and counting stations. This, however, cannot be processed while the visa extension is under process," the source said.

"It is pertinent to note that other ABC correspondents -- Meghna Bali and Som Patidar -- have already received their letters," the source added. PTI MPB KVK KVK

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