Statement: Fresh summons issued to Kashmir Walla editor over Srinagar gunfight coverage

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Srinagar Police has issued summons to The Kashmir Walla editor Fahad Shah, ordering him to present himself for questioning in connection with the stories that Kashmir Walla published while covering the gunfight in Nawakadal neighbourhood of downtown Srinagar on 19 May 2020 in which two militants were killed and 19 residential houses were damaged.

On 9 July 2020, The Kashmir Walla’s editor received a formal summon from Safakadal police station saying that “your presence is necessary for the purpose of enquiry into the offence committed under section 147, 307, 109, 501, 505 IPC”.

Earlier also, The Kashmir Walla editor was questioned on 20 May 2020 for over four hours by senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, who alleged that our coverage of the gunfight at Nawakadal had “defamed” the police. At that time, Kashmir Walla editor explained to the police officers that the coverage was based on undisputed facts, eyewitness accounts, interviews of the civilian population, and also the police. These facts were also documented on video. After that 4 hour long questioning by senior police officers, Kashmir Walla editor was allowed to go.

Now, we have been issued fresh summons.

We see these summons as yet another attempt to intimidate and silence journalists. As an independent news organisation based in Srinagar, we do not rely on government advertisements and comprise of a small team of committed young professionals who diligently report facts from the ground. We collect facts and cover every side of the story. It is clear that the facts of these stories that we put out were unpalatable to the police authorities who want no fact to be published. We have repeatedly reminded the authorities that attacking the messenger is not the solution to the problem. Since the last few months especially, we have felt an increasing disregard towards freedom of press and most of the times authorities are not ready to respond to critical but important questions raised by journalists. Despite being stonewalled, we have attempted to the very best to reach out to authorities to get their version.

Our editor Fahad Shah is currently being questioned in the police station. We ask the authorities to immediately stop this intimidation and allow us to carry on with our professional duties. Journalism is not a crime.

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