Indian authorities should stop persecuting journalists in Kashmir: IFJ

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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its India affiliate Indian Journalists Union (IJU) condemn the police’s highhandedness after the cyber wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police summoned and allegedly abused Auqib Javeed,  over a news report about alleged police intimidation of social media users.

The journalist body also urged the Indian authorities to stop such the violence and intimidation of journalists.

In a statement issued IFJ said, “Mr. Javeed was assaulted and harassed by Jammu and Kashmir Cyber Police on 19 September for his news report entitled ‘Police Question Kashmir Twitter Users For ‘Anti-Govt’ Posts’ published on the Article 14  online site,”

Adding that his article highlights cases of the intimidation by the Jammu and Kashmir police to civil society members, journalists and students for their tweets critical of government actions on article 370 and the internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Mr. Javeed who was accompanied by two members of the Kashmir Press Club, after being summoned he was abused and assaulted at the cyber-police’s police on 19 September. He said two masked police slapped him and Tahir Bhatti, the Superintendent of Police who is in charge of the police’s cyber cell,  abused him. The journalist was released after five hours. The police have refuted  his allegations of abuse.

IFJ further said that Journalists in the Jammu and Kashmir region are frequently harassed, threatened and summoned particularly over any criticism of the Indian government revocation of article 370 which lead to the imposed internetshutdown in 5 August  2019.

“On 31 July, Qazi Shibli, the editor of news portal  The Kashmiriyat , was detained while Fahad Shah, editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla, was summoned on 20 May. The police in Srinagar also filed separate investigations or First Information Reports (FIR) against Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra and journalist Gowhar Geelani on 18 April and 21  April respectively. And, cyber police in Srinagar questioned journalist Peerzada Ashiq on 19 April in relation to the journalist’s news articles,” the statement noted.

The IJU President Geetartha Pathak said: “The summoning of journalists by police and security persons has become common practice in the valley. The higher ups in the police and security agencies must sensitize the subordinates to respect freedom of expression rights of media.”

The IFJ said: “The IFJ has documented a disturbing series of attacks and harassment of media and journalists in Jammu and Kashmir following extended internet shutdown.  The IFJ demands that authorities stop persecuting journalists and media workers for doing their jobs and ensure that any internet restrictions are lifted.”

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