India Arrests Kashmiri Journalist Under Anti-terror, Sedition Laws

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Fahad Shah, the editor of the internet news portal Kashmir Walla

Police say, Fahad Shah, the editor of news portal Kashmir Walla, has been identified among “some Facebook users and portals” that published “anti-national content”.

Police in India-administered Kashmir has arrested a young journalist on accusations of publishing “anti-national content”.

Fahad Shah, the editor of news portal Kashmir Walla, was summoned for questioning at a police station in southern Pulwama town on Friday, Feb. 4, and later arrested there, police said.

Shah was arrested under India’s harsh anti-terror and sedition laws, which include punishment of up to seven years.

In a statement late on Friday, police said Shah was identified among “some Facebook users and portals” that had published “anti-national content”, without specifying the content.

It said such content was posted with “criminal intention to create fear among (the) public” and could “provoke the public to disturb law & order”. It also said such content was “tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities”.

Pulwama gunfight

The case relates to a gunfight between separatists trapped inside a civilian home and Indian troops in Pulwama on January 30. Police had said a Kashmiri separatist commander was killed in the fighting along with a Pakistani and another local separatist.

They described the fourth slain teenage boy, the house owner’s son, as a “hybrid militant”, term authorities began using last year for alleged militants with no police record and who operate as civilians. Kashmir Walla carried a series of reports following the gunfight, presenting both sides of the story. One video report quoted family members of the slain teenage boy refuting the police claim. Another video quoted the boy’s sister contradicting an earlier statement from the family.

Shah and other reporters associated with Kashmir Walla have been questioned for their reporting by police several times in the last few years.

The Indian government has taken over press club premises 

The Indian government has taken over the club’s premises citing a “security threat” but local reporters say that this was the only “safe space” for journalists in the contested region.

The Indian government has taken over the land and property of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC), citing an “emergent law and order situation”.

“An intervention has become imperative in [the] view of social media and other reports, pointing towards [the] likelihood of [a] breach of peace and imminent threat to [the] lives of journalists, including from cross border successionist-terrorist networks,” the administration said in a statement. 

Critics see the move as part of the government’s clampdown on the media fraternity of India-administered Kashmir, a disputed territory between New Delhi and Islamabad. 

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim it in full. Since 1989, a full-blown armed conflict has raged in India-administered Kashmir seeking a united Kashmir — either under Pakistani rule or independent of both countries.

The region is one of the most heavily militarized in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians, freedom fighters, and government forces have been killed in the raging conflict.

TRTWorld and agencies