A Kashmir Journalist Has Been Arrested Amid a Widening Crackdown on Press Freedom

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir stated they arrested a outstanding journalist on accusations of publishing “anti-national content material,” in a widening crackdown in opposition to media within the disputed area.

Fahad Shah, the editor of reports portal Kashmir Walla who has beforehand written for TIME, was summoned for questioning in southern Pulwama city on Friday and later arrested.

Police stated he was recognized amongst Fb customers and portals that had printed “anti-national content material,” with out specifying what it’s. It stated the content material was posted with “felony intention” to create worry and will “provoke the general public to disturb regulation and order.” It stated such content material was “tantamount to glorifying the terrorist actions.”
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The case pertains to a gunfight between rebels trapped inside a civilian residence and Indian troops in Pulwama on Jan. 30. Police had stated a Kashmiri insurgent commander was killed within the preventing together with a Pakistani and one other native militant. They described the fourth slain teenage boy, the home proprietor’s son, as a “hybrid” militant, a time period authorities started utilizing final yr for alleged militants with no police file and who function as civilians.

Kashmir Walla carried a collection of experiences on the preventing presenting each side of the story. One video report quoted relations of the slain boy refuting the police. One other video quoted the boy’s sister contradicting an earlier assertion from the household.

Shah, 34, was arrested underneath India’s harsh anti-terror and sedition legal guidelines, which embrace punishment of as much as seven years.

Shah and few different reporters related to Kashmir Walla have been questioned for his or her reporting a number of occasions in the previous few years.

On Saturday, police tweeted that Shah was needed in three instances for “glorifying terrorism, spreading faux information & inciting normal public for creating L&O (regulation and order) conditions.”

The award-winning journalist has additionally reported for a number of overseas publications.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan and each declare it in full. Since 1989, a full-blown armed revolt has raged within the Indian-controlled half looking for a united Kashmir, both underneath Pakistani rule or unbiased of each.

The area is among the most closely militarized on this planet. Tens of hundreds of civilians, rebels and authorities forces have been killed within the raging battle.

Journalists have lengthy contended with threats in Indian-controlled Kashmir. However their predicament turned worse after India revoked the area’s semi-autonomy in 2019, throwing Kashmir underneath a extreme safety and communication lockdown. A yr later, the federal government’s new media coverage sought to manage the press to censure unbiased reporting.

Dozens have been arrested, interrogated and investigated. Fearing reprisals, native press has largely wilted underneath strain.

Final month, police arrested journalist Sajad Gul after his tweet linked a video clip of a protest in opposition to Indian rule following a insurgent’s killing.

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Additionally in January, just a few journalists supportive of the Indian authorities, with help from armed police, took management of the Kashmir Valley’s solely unbiased press membership. Authorities shut it down the next day, drawing sharp criticism from media watchdogs.

The New York-based Committee to Defend Journalists requested Indian authorities to “instantly and unconditionally” launch Shah and “drop any investigation into his work and stop detaining members of the press.”

Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, stated in a press release the arrest “reveals Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the elemental proper of journalists to report freely and safely.”

“Authorities should instantly launch Shah, and all different journalists behind bars, and stop detaining and harassing journalists for merely doing their jobs,” he stated.


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