Police in Indian-administered Kashmir threaten to provoke authorized motion in opposition to the British broadcaster for reporting on media crackdown in disputed area.
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have “strongly objected” to an article revealed by the BBC on press freedom within the Muslim-majority area and have threatened to take authorized motion for “unfairly castigating” its work.
The report by the British broadcaster, headlined “Any story could possibly be your final” – India’s crackdown on Kashmir press, was revealed on Friday and highlights the case of a number of Kashmiri journalists incarcerated on “terrorism” fees, below which bail is troublesome to get. The report additionally paperwork the day-to-day harassment and intimidation different journalists have confronted from safety forces.
“The article unfairly castigates efforts of J&Ok Police in sustaining regulation and order and safety in J&Ok as biased in opposition to journalists,” the Jammu and Kashmir Police stated in a put up on X, previously generally known as Twitter.
The police “condemned” the try by the BBC to misrepresent the state of affairs on the bottom, including that it maintains “the best requirements of professionalism”.
J&Ok Police strongly objects to an article revealed by the BBC on 1 September 2023, “Any story could possibly be your final – India’s crackdown on Kashmir Press” by Yogita Limaye. The article unfairly castigates efforts of J&Ok Police in sustaining regulation and order and safety in…
— J&Ok Police (@JmuKmrPolice) September 2, 2023
The yearlong investigation by the BBC was revealed simply weeks after an unbiased Kashmiri information outlet, The Kashmir Walla, stated Indian authorities had blocked entry to its web site.
A variety of Kashmiri journalists have been arrested, questioned and investigated in relation to their work since India’s Hindu nationalist authorities scrapped the area’s semi-autonomous standing in 2019 as a part of its efforts to combine the disputed territory into the remainder of the nation.
Anti-India sentiment runs excessive within the Himalayan area, which has seen a bloody rebel because the late Nineteen Eighties. The rebels both need Kashmir to be unbiased or merged into neighbouring Pakistan.
India has accused Pakistan of backing the rebels, a cost Islamabad has denied.
New Delhi says its unprecedented motion in 2019 was geared toward rooting out “terrorism” from the territory, which is claimed by each India and Pakistan. Every of the 2 arch-foes administer elements of it. They’ve fought two of their three wars over the area since gaining independence from the British in 1947.
‘Sinister marketing campaign’
The BBC stated its reporter spoke to greater than two dozen Kashmir journalists for the article. They included editors and reporters working for unbiased and nationwide media organisations.
“The BBC has spent greater than a yr investigating accusations in opposition to the Indian authorities that it’s working a sinister and systematic marketing campaign to intimidate and silence the press within the area,” the broadcaster stated.
“We needed to meet journalists in secret, they usually requested for his or her names to be hidden, fearing reprisals.”
All of these interviewed stated the federal government’s arbitrary arrests of media personalities was to ship all journalists a “warning”.
One of many instances highlighted by the UK outlet was that of Aasif Sultan, who labored as an assistant editor for a Srinagar-based English journal.
Sultan has been in jail since August 2018 below the Illegal Actions (Prevention) Act or UAPA, and is accused of “harbouring recognized militants”, an allegation he denies.
He has additionally been charged with homicide, try and homicide and different crimes.
The case of Fahad Shah – founding editor of The Kashmir Walla, who was arrested by Indian police below an “anti-terror” regulation final yr in February – can also be detailed within the report.
He was accused of “glorifying terrorism” and “spreading faux information”. Of their put up on X, the Kashmir police defended Shah’s arrest.
“It’s pertinent to say that one of many instances talked about, … that of Fahad Shah, is one the place a trial is already ongoing … and the court docket has already framed fees in opposition to him below the UAPA for offering terror sympathisers a platform for advocating terrorism,” the police stated.
This yr, the media watchdog Committee to Defend Journalists stated 62 journalists have been killed in India in reference to their work since 1992.
Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed extra web shutdowns than another nation on this planet final yr, in line with Surfshark, a digital non-public community supplier.
India has slipped within the press freedom index since Prime Minister Narendra Modi got here to energy in 2014. It ranks at 161 in an inventory of 180 nations.
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