This week, Jammu and Kashmir police booked two journalists — Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani — for their social media posts. Various rights groups have called out the harassment of journalists by the police and demanded the withdrawal of charges. This is the statement by Mr. Geelani on the charges against him. It has not been edited.
Journalists and writers are storytellers. They tell people’s stories and explain the events in a proper context and historicity with an analytical sweep.
As a journalist, It is my job to write, to tell stories, and to analyse and interpret different situations and events on the ground. I have been telling all kinds of stories from Srinagar to Berlin, from New Delhi to London. A journalist can’t make all sides happy. Someone always finds something unpalatable. But that’s a journalist’s professional predicament. During my professional career spanning over 15 years I have been writing stories of the marginalised and the dispossessed, the powerful and the powerless — all kinds of stories, the tragedies and triumphs.
I have been showered with accolades by the people and globally reputed and independent institutions. At the same time I have witnessed many ups and downs in my career. Have faced abuses and threats from the rightwing trolls. Been accused of bias by competing ideological camps in Kashmir; left, right and centre.
Intimidating tactics from any quarter won’t cow me down. I will continue doing my job with sound professional judgment.
It is a badge of honour for a journalist when the dispossessed love your body of work and the powerful dislike it.
Obviously, all the charges made against me are concocted and baseless. The aim is to silence all the remaining critical and sane voices and to criminalise opinions and journalism in Kashmir.
As I have not yet formally received the copy of FIR and the so-called complaint received by the Cyber Police Station, I hope that police will provide the copy of the same to me without any delay, so that I can prepare my legal defence. I will surely cooperate with the investigation and am ready for the trial.
Memory will win. Words are a writer’s weapons. All I have is: words. Let me assure one and all that journalism and words will stay and survive. Censorship won’t. All my life I have advocated non-violence, condemned violence in all forms and manifestations, stood for the rights of the people and free speech.
I thank my family, friends, colleagues of my fraternity and all the media organisations, global advocacy groups, human rights defenders, rights bodies and institutions, and, above, the people in and outside Kashmir for their unflinching support and overwhelming solidarity! A humbling experience.
“Na sile ki na sataish ki tamanna hum ko
haq main logoun ke hamari to hai aadat likhna
Iss se badh kar meri tehsin bhala kya hogi
padh ke naḳhush hain mera sahib-e-sarvat likhna”