Valley police registers FIR against scribe for status on WhatsApp
Police in Jammu and Kashmir have registered an FIR against a local journalist after he put up a WhatsApp status of a picture showing 20 children who died in a boat accident 15 years back with the word “martyr’s” inscribed on it.
Journalist Sajid Raina, who works in Bandipora district, said he received a call from police informing him that an FIR has been lodged against him under Sections 153 and 505(b) of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 153 relates to provocation which might cause rioting, while 505(b) is related to intention to cause fear or alarm which might induce a person to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity.
A police statement said an FIR was lodged against “one person namely Sajid Raina”, without describing his profession, for his WhatsApp status on May 30, saying it “attracts investigation into the contents and intention behind it”.
“It was not against anyone’s profession particularly journalists as being circulated in social media. Investigations are underway,” the statement added.
Twenty school children had died on May 30, 2006, after a boat capsized in the Wullar lake, an accident not related to militancy.
“I put up a WhatsApp status on May 30 simply in memory of the kids that died that day in 2006. There was nothing political about it and there was no other intention. The words ‘Wullar martyr’s’ were already inscribed in the picture,” Raina told The Telegraph.
“In Islam, we believe one who dies in an accident or by drowning is a martyr. I do not know what is offensive about that.”
Raina, who works for a local news agency, said he received a call from a police official about the WhatsApp status after which he deleted the picture.
“It was there for just five hours and was seen by no more than 20 people. Today, I was summoned by a police official.”
Sajad Gul, a colleague, tweeted that he was also booked by Bandipora police recently and claimed the police “wants to criminalise journalists in Bandipora and stop them from factual reporting”.
Gul was booked for “rioting, trespassing, and assault” after he wrote a story for a website in which villagers alleged a tehsildar was harassing and threatening them for opposing a demolition drive.
The journalist claimed he was booked for stone pelting and shouting slogans during the demolition drive although he was in Srinagar that day.
Valley journalists have been in the crosshairs of the government, facing arrests, thrashing, intimidation and FIRs after the revocation of the state’s special status in 2019. Police also routinely book other men for apparently small issues.
Local journalist Aasif Sultan recently completed three years in prison. Police claim he was arrested for his militancy links but his family and various journalist bodies have been protesting that he was targeted for his professional work.