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Sedition charge on former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid Shora

Shora said the FIR against her was a 'frivolous, politically motivated and a pathetic attempt to silence me'

By TT Bureau in New Delhi
  • Published 7.09.19, 3:45 AM
  • Updated 7.09.19, 3:45 AM
  • 2 mins read
Shehla Rashid Shora (@ShehlaRashidOfficial)

Delhi police on Friday booked Shehla Rashid Shora, former JNU student leader and current general secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement Party, for sedition over her tweets alleging human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Shora, one of the few political activists from the Valley who have not been detained since the lockdown on August 5, said the FIR against her was a “frivolous, politically motivated and a pathetic attempt to silence me”.

She had uploaded a series of tweets based on conversations with Kashmiris who had arrived in Delhi after restrictions were eased in the Valley. Her tweets had centred on the struggles of daily life in the Valley against the backdrop of a communication blockade. She had also levelled allegations against the army.

“We registered an FIR against Shora and she has been charged with sedition among other sections of the IPC. Investigation is underway,” said an officer of Delhi police’s special cell that deals with terrorism-related cases.

The Delhi police report to the Union home ministry, now headed by Amit Shah.

The FIR, the officer said, was lodged on a complaint from a Supreme Court lawyer who had sought Shora’s arrest for spreading “fake news”.

In her tweets last month, Shora, who is now in Delhi, had alleged that armed forces “are entering houses at night, picking up boys, ransacking houses, deliberately spilling rations on the floor, mixing oil with rice”.

She had said that in Shopian, “four men were called into the army camp and interrogated (tortured). A mic was kept close to them so that the entire area could hear them scream, and be terrorised. This created an environment of fear in the entire area.”

The army denied Shora’s allegations as “baseless” and claimed they were intended at inciting an “unsuspecting population”.

Soon, a campaign began against her on social media and national news channels. One channel ran a poll on whether she should be arrested and several promoted hashtags calling for her to be taken into custody.

Shora had earlier demanded that the army follow up its denial with a probe. “If one of the largest armies of the world has the time to respond to a tweet, then they should also initiate a fair and impartial investigation, and if they find any personnel guilty, they should be court-martialled,” she said.

Shora had said she was ready to give the evidence whenever the army constituted an inquiry.

In a statement, she said on Friday: “I have learnt from media reports that the special cell of Delhi police has filed an FIR against me for speaking out on the clampdown in Kashmir and the denial of basic rights to Kashmiris. The FIR is a frivolous, politically motivated and pathetic attempt to silence me.

“I am a petitioner in the constitutional challenge to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, and our petition in the Supreme Court makes a very strong case for the restoration of the same. In my tweets, I have clearly mentioned that these are based on information received from people in the state.”

She said in a “situation where reporters are not allowed to report, media, social media, telephonic and postal communication is gagged, it is important to put out narratives of the people, so that people in the rest of India know what is happening there”.

“As a political activist, I was just doing my job. In the Twitter thread for which I’m being targeted, I have highlighted the positive work of the administration in ensuring facilities to the people. That itself is proof enough that I have no motive except to shine light on the truth, which is corroborated by several media reports published in India and elsewhere. I appeal to everyone to stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir in the fight for restoration of their rights.”