Is journalism a crime in IOK?

Srinagar, April 21, 2020 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, the registration of cases against two noted Kashmiri journalists, Peerzada Ashiq and female photojournalist Masarrat Zahra by the Indian authorities under serious charges drew widespread condemnation, locally as well as globally.


Masarrat Zahra, whose work has been published by Al-Jazeera, The Caravan, The Quint, TRT World and other reputed organisations in India and abroad, was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for uploading some Kashmir-related photographs.


Peerzada Ashiq who works with The Hindu newspaper is facing the charge of publishing a “fake news item” with reference to a story about the two martyrs’ families, who wanted to exhume their bodies to perform funeral rites.


Politicians, analysts, local and international media outlets and journalist bodies while responding to the registration of the cases said that the move has proved that the freedom of media is under serious threat in occupied Kashmir. They said that the journalists’ crime was that they were portraying true picture of Indian tyranny in the occupied territory. They maintained that press freedom in the occupied territory was under severe and sustained threat as India was using cruel methods to stifle press in the territory.


The Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Gilani while denouncing the booking of the woman photojournalist in a statement in Srinagar pointed out that Masarrat Zahra was being harassed for doing her professional work in occupied Kashmir.


The Kashmir Press Club strongly reacted to the stringent charges against the journalists saying that journalism in Kashmir had never been an easy task, but challenges and hardships had multiplied for journalists since August 2019.


The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists has urged the authorities in Kashmir to let the journalists report freely on events in the territory without facing harassment and intimidation. It added that the police should drop their investigations, and India should reform its laws to make such capricious actions by police impossible.


The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of charges against Zahra and Ashiq. In a statement issued to media, Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said “In the absence of any substantiation by the police, we call on the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to immediately drop these outrageous charges against Masarrat Zahra.”


Earlier, Vienna based International Press Institute in a statement had said that press freedom in IOK was under serious threat. The global media watchdog had said that Journalism in Kashmir was under a dramatic state of repression. It had maintained that India was using harassment, intimidation, surveillance to control press in Kashmir. The IPI asked India to restore full internet and social media access in Kashmir. Harassment and intimidation of journalists at the hands of Indian forces have become a routine in Kashmir, it added.


For more information, contact:

Kashmir Media Service

Phone: +92-51-4435548, +92-51-4435549

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