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Home / India / ‘Nationalist’ media vs J&K cops on FIR against pro-State portal

‘Nationalist’ media vs J&K cops on FIR against pro-State portal

News portal is booked for allegedly instigating people to cause riot or commit offence
In most of the earlier FIRs, many journalists had backed the police action against other local scribes and taken on media watchdogs such as the Editors Guild of India for defending them.
In most of the earlier FIRs, many journalists had backed the police action against other local scribes and taken on media watchdogs such as the Editors Guild of India for defending them.
File photo

Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar   |   Published 24.06.22, 01:41 AM

Jammu and Kashmir police have booked a fiercely pro-India news portal for allegedly instigating people to cause riot or commit offence against the State, triggering a war of words between cops and “nationalist” journalist-activists.

The Sajid Yousuf Shah-headed The Real Kashmir News portal has been accused of spreading “fake and baseless news” for writing that two “foreign” militants killed in a recent encounter in Kupwara were local militants. The website had apologised for the “mistake”.

Similar actions by the police is common against Kashmiri journalists, some of whom are languishing in jail, but the latest FIR seems to have the entire “nationalist” corps up in arms against the men in uniform.

In most of the earlier FIRs, many journalists had backed the police action against other local scribes and taken on media watchdogs such as the Editors Guild of India for defending them.

Activist-lawyer-journalist Shah was among the few local voices who openly came out in support of the government after the 2019 scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

This Republic Day, he and some of his associates hoisted the Tricolour on the clock tower in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk amid heavy security presence.

Shah landed in trouble on Monday when Shopian police said it had booked the “handler of Facebook news portal” for “spreading fake and baseless news with the intention to mislead the general public” about the Kupwara encounter.

The case has been lodged under penal code sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot) and 505(1)b (induce a person to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity), which are non-bailable.

A young IPS officer from Bihar, Tanushree, is the police chief of Shopian district. Her action has triggered a backlash from people who defend the men in uniform to the hilt.

Abhijit Iyer Mitra, a Delhi-based “defence and international security expert”, in a tweet hoped the home ministry was watching “power-drunk, blatant abuse of power unfold”.

Delhi-based Kashmiri journalist Aditya Raj Kaul wrote he was shocked by this “unfortunate and immature step”.

“As if separatists and radicals weren’t enough, now even J&K Police is targeting pro-India voices,” he tweeted.

Shopian police shot back and said “no one has the right to spread fake news and instigate people for L&O (law-and-order situations)”.

“The Real Kashmir News portal termed 02 foreign terrorists killed in Kupwara encounter as locals. @ Mr Aditya Before tweeting, please check fact,” the police tweeted.

Kaul asked police not to preach “when you only find courage in going against pro-India and nationalist voices to silence them”, claiming no action is taken against former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti when they question the role of the police.

Farooq and Mehbooba were among thousands arrested in 2019 in the wake of the scrapping of special status. Both were booked under the stringent Public Safety Act.

Yana Mir, the editor-in-chief of The Real Kashmir News who features prominently on national media to defend India, said the police had a problem only when the “local Kashmiri Muslims start to question them”.

“They reserve the right to shoot whoever they wish. As Kashmiri Indian Nationals, even if we request them for a probe, it’s a crime!” she wrote when some social media users asked why the police did not take any action against a national channel for wrong reporting.

Shah, who lives under police security, told The Telegraph he was surprised by the FIR because he — unlike other journalists booked in Kashmir previously — has never uttered a word against the State. He said he lost his mother and uncle to a militant attack in 2002 and had narrowly escaped several militant attacks himself.

“I have always been at the forefront to defend Jammu and Kashmir police. But now, I call it my karma, they are biting me. Maybe somebody is behind it,” he said.

“We only learnt from the media that there was an FIR against us, although we had publicly apologised (for the error in reporting) and corrected the mistake. Actually, two encounters were taking place (that day) and it happened because of some confusion.”

In some of his recent posts, Shah has criticised the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom he had earlier called his “inspiration”, after the government reportedly cold-shouldered his call to hoist the Tricolour at the clock tower.

Shah is also believed to be close to the army but he denied these could have been the reason behind the FIR.



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