Kashmir: Document Shows J&K Police ‘Monitoring’ Posts on Social Media

A file inadvertently emailed by police to journalists on Friday contained screengrabs of various accounts talking about the situation in the Valley.

Srinagar: Are the J&K Police monitoring social media posts discussing the situation in Kashmir post-August 5, the day the state was stripped of its special status?

An email from the police containing a file with screengrabs of different Twitter accounts and “inadvertently” sent to journalists and media houses in the Valley suggests so.

At 6:29 pm on Friday (November 22), the police sent an email to journalists about the day’s updates.

The mail contained a press release about the arrest of three drug peddlers from two different areas of central Kashmir’s Budgam district and the seizure of contraband substances from their possession.

There were also two separate pictures of two private vehicles which, according to the police, were caught transporting charas and fuki in Bonpora and Kilkadal villages of the district respectively.

But what caught the attention of the journalists was a file attached with the mail and named “DNA file”.

The file contained screenshots of Twitter accounts of politicians, journalists and activists among others. There were also screenshots of official Twitter accounts of different TV channels run from different parts of the world.

One of the screenshots was that of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in which he talked about the situation in the Valley. It is dated September 19.

Another screenshot was of Kashmiri student activists Shehla Rashid in which she narrates the incident of alleged human rights violations at the hands of security in Kashmir post-August 5, when the Centre diluted Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.

Those being “monitored” by the J&K Police, as per the list, also include Kashmir-based journalist Ahmed Ali Fayyaz and Pakistani journalists Hamid Mir.

The list also includes media organisations like Pakistan-based Radio Pakistan, Samaa channel and ARY News and Turkish news channel, TRT World and Germany-based DW News.

All these screenshots are after August 5.

More than an hour later at 7:57 pm, the J&K police sent another email to the media houses and journalist, asking them to ignore the DNA file.

“In reference to our press release no Note, S-11/19/872 dated 22/11/2019 an attachment DNA Sep.doc has been inadvertently received by you. You are requested to ignore this attachment,” the police said.

A senior police official of the rank of superintendent of police said it was “part of the job of J&K Police to keep track of any news related to Kashmir in the media and other platforms including social media.”

“This is nothing new,” he said. However, he refused to comment on how the file was sent as part of media briefings to journalists.

Another police official talked about the “general monitoring to ensure that rumours and false news was not spread in a sensitive place like Kashmir.” “In case of any suspicion we take up the matter with the authorities concerned for further action on their side,” said the official, wishing not to be named.

The government enforced the suspension of internet in Kashmir entered its 112th day on Sunday. There has been no word from the government on the restoration of the services. Both the Centre and local government has defended the internet gag, saying there were apprehensions that “Pakistan might foment trouble” if the service was restored.

The unprecedented internet gag has hit business and normal life in Kashmir.