Kashmir Journalist Auqib Javeed who was summoned by cyber police over a story has alleged that he was beaten and abused by the police officials and his phone tampered inside the police station.
Mr. Javeed who wrote a story titled “The Real Cyber Bully: Police In Kashmir Question Twitter Users” on the disappearing of Twitter users on the from the micro-blogging site” has said that he was first slapped by masked policeman in the compound of cyber police station and then later abused by Superintendent of Police, Incharge of the police’s cyber cell Tahir Bhatti for the story.
“I heard the sounds of boots approaching, and as I turned to see who it was, a masked policeman slapped me hard on my left cheek. He did sound like a local. “Kis liye aaya hai tu (why have you come?),” he demanded. Once I recovered from the shock of the slap, I said, “SP saab has called me.” He slapped me hard again and left,” The journalist has written for an online news portal Article-14 ( the story had appeared in the same publication).
Later, Mr. Javeed who is also an executive member of Kashmir Press Club says that he was asked to enter the SP’s room, “I went inside shaken, with a hand on my still-stinging left cheek. The thought went over and over in my mind: “How could he do it to me?”
As I entered, SP Bhatii asked: “Who are you?”
“I told him, slowly, “Mai Auqib hou, apane bulaya (I am Auqib, you called me).”
“He got up from his chair and said How could you write that cyber police are bullying people?” He demanded to know why I had used a picture of the Cargo center, when it was not the cyber police station, and why I had written a “concocted” story,” He wrote.
Adding that the police officer started abusing his mother and sister and kept up the shouting. “Ab mai tujhe dikhavu ga saalay (Now I will teach you a lesson),” Mr. Javeed quoted the officer as saying.
“Bulava city police ko (call the city police),” he told a policeman standing by the door.
“I told SP Bhatii that the story was based on fact, but the picture and headline were not up to me but the editors.”
”No, this is a fake and baseless story,” Mr. Javeed quoted the SP as saying. “Kashmir is burning because of people like you who spread fake narratives.” Adding that the officer told him that he had maligned the image of the cyber police, and “he threatened to book me under various sections of law.”
Mr. Javeed added that he was in deep shock, still wondering what was going on, “I recall remembering how absurd it would be for me to attempt maligning the image of the police—such a powerful institution in Kashmir.”
He also alleged that his phone was taken away by a policeman, with no reason given., “The SP then told me he had given his “blood and sweat to this institution” and he would not let anyone malign it.”
“I noticed two white adhesive tapes on the front and back of my phone later and realised most apps were not opening. The whatsapp was now without a password, as was the phone. While I was at the police station, the policeman who took my phone asked me to show me the contact details of the SP in my address book, which I did. Later, I found the call record of my 20 August conversation with SP Bhatii deleted,” Mr. Javeed who works with Kashmir Observer Newspaper wrote.
Adding that the experience has left him traumatised, anxious and nervous, “I was awake most of that night, haunted by the physical assault and their abuse,”
“It was the first time I had ever been hit. As I stood there in a fog of shock, I somehow and vaguely rationalised this assault as the cost of doing journalism in Kashmir. I was not the first to be intimidated. Others have had cases filed against them,”
The cyber police have however refuted the allegations of excesses against the journalist, “The allegation of excesses by Police officials/ officer, published subsequently by Article-14 and other Social Media handle are misleading and factually incorrect, hence refuted,” read the statement by the department.