J&K: Trainee reporter booked on conspiracy charges
Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested a trainee reporter from Bandipora and booked him for criminal conspiracy after he allegedly posted a video of a family shouting anti-government slogans over the killing of their son, who was a militant.
The arrest came as the police booked 10 leaders of the People’s Democratic Party, including former ministers, for participating in a gathering to mark the sixth death anniversary of party founder and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in south Kashmir on Friday. The police said they were booked for violating Covid guidelines but the party alleged vendetta.
The police said Sajad Gul, who works for a news portal and is pursuing journalism at the Central University of Kashmir, was arrested for trying to “disrupt peace and tranquillity of the region” and claimed he had tweeted “fake news” to provoke people.
Gul’s family said he was picked up by the army during a raid at his Shahgund home on Wednesday night and was later handed over to the police. An FIR was registered against him on Friday.
New York-based media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists said it was “deeply disturbed” by the young reporter’s arrest and sought his immediate release. It wrote on Twitter that Indian authorities should “drop their investigation related to his journalistic work”.
A police officer said a chargesheet had been filed against Gul at a court in Bandipora for allegedly tweeting “fake news in order to provoke people against the government”.
The police said in a statement that the journalist had uploaded videos of “anti-government slogans by some women folk, mostly relatives” at the home of militant commander Salim Parrey who was killed on January 5, thereby “trying to disrupt the peace”.
“His activities are prejudicial to the security and sovereignty of the country,” the police said.
The police have arrested, booked or summoned dozens of journalists in Kashmir since the 2019 scrapping of the erstwhile state’s special status as part of a crackdown on dissent.
Fahad Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla web portal where Gul worked, condemned his arrest, asking the government not to criminalise journalism. He said his legal team was working to seek Gul’s early release.
Gul had earlier been booked in February last year after he had written an article on alleged corruption in the administration and had claimed several times since then that he was being harassed. The government had denied the allegations and said he had instigated a mob to oppose a demolition drive
In the south Kashmir incident, the police booked 10 leaders and activists of the PDP, including former ministers Abdul Rahman Veeri and Sartaj Madni, for allegedly violating Covid protocol at the event to mark Sayeed’s death anniversary.
Sayeed’s daughter, PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, hit back and asked why her party alone was being subjected to restrictions.
“Covid-19 restrictions apply only to PDP. Not to BJP’s protest in Kashmir yesterday, PM’s rally in Punjab or the mass poojas attended by hundreds of people to pray for his safety. Talks volumes about J&K admin’s brazen bias against my party,” she tweeted.
Covid 19 restrictions apply only to PDP. Not to BJP’s protest in Kashmir yesterday, PMs rally in Punjab or the mass poojas attended by hundreds of people to pray for his safety. Talks volumes about J&K admin’s brazen bias against my party. https://t.co/AnvL0riCMD— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) January 8, 2022
The police tried to prevent Mehbooba and scores of her supporters from entering her father’s graveyard at Bijbehara on Friday but relented in the face of protests.