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Kashmir: Journalist Fahad Shah arrested for FB post on Pulwama encounter

Pulwama Police allege ‘Facebook users and portals have been uploading anti-national content’

Karuna John 05 Feb 2022

Kashmir: Journalist Fahad Shah arrested for FB post
Image: The Kashmir Walla/Umer Asif

Journalist Fahad Shah, editor of Srinagar-based magazine The Kashmir Walla was arrested on Friday evening, by Jammu Kashmir Police. According to media reports the police stated that, “It was reliably learnt by Pulwama Police that some Facebook users and portals have been uploading anti-national content including photographs, videos and posts with criminal intention to create fear among public and the content so uploaded can provoke the public to disturb law & order. It was also learnt that these Facebook users are uploading such posts which tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities and causing dent to the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing ill-will & disaffection against the country. As the aforementioned activities by some of the Facebook users amounts to commission of cognizable offences by them, accordingly Pulwama Police while taking cognizance of the matter registered a case vide FIR No. 19/2022 under relevant sections of the law and initiated the investigation.”

Police then identified the journalist and stated, “one accused person identified as Fahad Shah was arrested. The accused is on police remand. The investigation into the matter is in progress. Journalists Fahad Shah and Majid Hyderi were reportedly called in for questioning on January 31, along with, in connection with a case registered following an encounter in Pulwama, the two were summoned for “incorrect reporting.” Fahad had shared on his Twitter page that he had returned home after that questioning on Tuesday.

 

 

Fahad Shah’s magazine The Kashmir Walla had published an article based on the version of the family of Inayat who was killed during the encounter in Pulwama on January 30 saying that he was innocent and not a militant. The police had denied this claim. According to a report in The Kashmiriyat portal, Fahad was summoned by the Police and left the office around 4 p.m. and did not come back. His colleagues told the media they “have not been formally told of the charges yet.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that it reviewed the FIR against Shah that details allegations of Sedition, making statements causing public mischief.  “The arrest of Fahad Shah shows Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C asking that, “Authorities must immediately release Shah, and all other journalists behind bars, and cease detaining and harassing journalists for simply doing their jobs.” Shah had earlier told CPJ in a phone interview that police had questioned him on February 1 about The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of the January 30, encounter which was published on its website and Facebook page.  Incidentally, Sajad Gul, a contributor to The Kashmir Walla, was arrested on January 5, and was granted bail on January 15, however he remains in detention, as he was again booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).  Fahad Shah’s portal had been following the case of their colleague closely.

“How many Fahad’s will you arrest?” asked former J&K Chief Minister  Mehbooba Mufti

 

 

According to a recent  India Press Freedom Report 2021 by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura topped the list of States and Union Territories where journalists and media houses were targeted in 2021, “highest number of journalists or media organisations targeted was in J&K (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23), Madhya Pradesh (16), Tripura (15), Delhi (8), Bihar (6), Assam (5), Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each), Goa and Manipur (3 each), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each), and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each).” the report stated.

The group's “India Press Freedom Report 2021” stated that at least six journalists were killed and 121 journalists/media houses including 108 journalists and 13 media houses/newspapers were targeted in India. According to its director Suhas Chakma, “the widespread attacks on the press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Tripura are an indicator of continuing deterioration of civic space in the country. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 is an affirmation of the government’s intent to crack down on media freedom. The spotlight on attacks against media freedom during 2021 remained on Jammu and Kashmir. Out of the 17 journalists arrested in the country, J&K reported the highest cases of arrest/detention with five journalists.” Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from Jammu and Kashmir, stated the report in its spotlight on J&K

 

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Kashmir: Journalist Fahad Shah arrested for FB post on Pulwama encounter

Pulwama Police allege ‘Facebook users and portals have been uploading anti-national content’

Kashmir: Journalist Fahad Shah arrested for FB post
Image: The Kashmir Walla/Umer Asif

Journalist Fahad Shah, editor of Srinagar-based magazine The Kashmir Walla was arrested on Friday evening, by Jammu Kashmir Police. According to media reports the police stated that, “It was reliably learnt by Pulwama Police that some Facebook users and portals have been uploading anti-national content including photographs, videos and posts with criminal intention to create fear among public and the content so uploaded can provoke the public to disturb law & order. It was also learnt that these Facebook users are uploading such posts which tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities and causing dent to the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing ill-will & disaffection against the country. As the aforementioned activities by some of the Facebook users amounts to commission of cognizable offences by them, accordingly Pulwama Police while taking cognizance of the matter registered a case vide FIR No. 19/2022 under relevant sections of the law and initiated the investigation.”

Police then identified the journalist and stated, “one accused person identified as Fahad Shah was arrested. The accused is on police remand. The investigation into the matter is in progress. Journalists Fahad Shah and Majid Hyderi were reportedly called in for questioning on January 31, along with, in connection with a case registered following an encounter in Pulwama, the two were summoned for “incorrect reporting.” Fahad had shared on his Twitter page that he had returned home after that questioning on Tuesday.

 

 

Fahad Shah’s magazine The Kashmir Walla had published an article based on the version of the family of Inayat who was killed during the encounter in Pulwama on January 30 saying that he was innocent and not a militant. The police had denied this claim. According to a report in The Kashmiriyat portal, Fahad was summoned by the Police and left the office around 4 p.m. and did not come back. His colleagues told the media they “have not been formally told of the charges yet.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that it reviewed the FIR against Shah that details allegations of Sedition, making statements causing public mischief.  “The arrest of Fahad Shah shows Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C asking that, “Authorities must immediately release Shah, and all other journalists behind bars, and cease detaining and harassing journalists for simply doing their jobs.” Shah had earlier told CPJ in a phone interview that police had questioned him on February 1 about The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of the January 30, encounter which was published on its website and Facebook page.  Incidentally, Sajad Gul, a contributor to The Kashmir Walla, was arrested on January 5, and was granted bail on January 15, however he remains in detention, as he was again booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).  Fahad Shah’s portal had been following the case of their colleague closely.

“How many Fahad’s will you arrest?” asked former J&K Chief Minister  Mehbooba Mufti

 

 

According to a recent  India Press Freedom Report 2021 by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura topped the list of States and Union Territories where journalists and media houses were targeted in 2021, “highest number of journalists or media organisations targeted was in J&K (25), followed by Uttar Pradesh (23), Madhya Pradesh (16), Tripura (15), Delhi (8), Bihar (6), Assam (5), Haryana and Maharashtra (4 each), Goa and Manipur (3 each), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (2 each), and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Kerala (1 each).” the report stated.

The group's “India Press Freedom Report 2021” stated that at least six journalists were killed and 121 journalists/media houses including 108 journalists and 13 media houses/newspapers were targeted in India. According to its director Suhas Chakma, “the widespread attacks on the press freedom from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Tripura are an indicator of continuing deterioration of civic space in the country. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 is an affirmation of the government’s intent to crack down on media freedom. The spotlight on attacks against media freedom during 2021 remained on Jammu and Kashmir. Out of the 17 journalists arrested in the country, J&K reported the highest cases of arrest/detention with five journalists.” Physical attacks on journalists by police were mainly reported from Jammu and Kashmir, stated the report in its spotlight on J&K

 

Related

Restore Independence of Kashmir Press Club: DUJ

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

Never-the-less, they persisted: Human Rights Heroes of 2021

Kashmir: Educationist Sabbah Haji released on bail

 

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