Police file FIR against Kashmir Walla as army denies pressure on Shopian school

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The police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against The Kashmir Walla following an army complaint that a news report about a Shopian-based school being “pressurised” by them to hold a Republic Day function is “baseless”.

The school administration, while speaking to The Kashmir Walla on 27 January 2021, had claimed that the army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) had been pressuring the institution “for a month” to hold the event. 

However, the Jamia Siraj-ul-Uloom administration purportedly later issued a letter, which was circulated on social media, denying “any compulsion on behalf of any army personal (sic) or police”. The Kashmir Walla attempted to reach out to the school administration to verify the letter, however, the phone of the school chairman was continuously switched off. 

On 30 January 2021, the local army unit filed an FIR against The Kashmir Walla and another south Kashmir-based news portal, The Kashmiriyat, which had also published a similar claim of the school administration.

The FIR number 06/2021 has been filed at Imamsahib Police Station on 30 January 2021 on the complaint of Company Commander, D-Company of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) based at Imamsahib, Shopian. The case has been registered under sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause riot—if rioting be committed—if not committed) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

On 26 January, the video of the first-ever celebration of R-Day at a school in the Shopian district appeared on social media wherein men and young boys were seen holding the tri-colors as the Indian national anthem played in the background. The next day, The Kashmir Walla contacted the founder-chairman of the school, Mohammad Yusuf Mantoo, and he said that the army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was pursuing him to “hold this function for the past one month”. 

“Army insisted that we should do it, put our school’s banner in front, however, we did not agree,” Mantoo had said. “But they insisted that you have to do it. We were under pressure.” Further in the call interview, Mantoo said that he had told the army that due to winter vacations the students and staff won’t be available. “What can we say [to them]. The atmosphere that is here from top to down, we are helpless, what could we do?” he said.

“The Kashmir Walla stands by its reporting and will produce related evidence if and when required in a court of law,” said Fahad Shah, Editor-in-Chief of The Kashmir Walla.

Jamia Siraj-ul-Uloom has been in news since October 2020 when the police had claimed to have arrested three of its teachers under the Public Safety Act (PSA). At a press conference, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar had then said that “five or six more teachers of the school are under surveillance … the school is basically affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami … at this moment, we are taking action against the individuals. If there’s a need, we will act against the institution as well.”

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