Kashmir: Police Raids Houses of Several Journalists in Probe Against Online Threats

Local journalist Sajad Ahmad Kralyari was detained for questioning during the police raid, and his laptop, camera and cellphone were seized, Reuters quoted a top official as having said.

New Delhi: Kashmir Police raided the houses of several journalists on Saturday, November 19, in an investigation into online threats to around a dozen journalists in Kashmir.

Kashmir Zone Police tweeted the following early on Saturday. The searches were conducted at 10 locations in Srinagar, Anantnag and Kulgam.

Police have blamed Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Toiba and its offshoot The Resistance Front for the threats, which were delivered through a blog which cannot be accessed in the Union Territory.

Online posts, accusing journalists of being “collaborators” with Indian security agencies, threatened employees of three Kashmir-based, “Delhi-backed, Indian army-sponsored” media houses for “spreading fake narratives”.

Police have invoked section 13 of Unlawful Activities Protection Act along with sections 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 124A (Sedition) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code against those who issued the threats.

Five journalists affiliated with these media organisations resigned after threats.

However, police action so far seems to have focused on journalists.

Local journalist Sajad Ahmad Kralyari was detained for questioning during the police raid, and his laptop, camera and cellphone were seized, an unnamed top official told Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

The raids were at the houses of half a dozen journalists, including writer and author Gowhar Geelani, the official said.

Since the reading down of Article 370, Geelani has been a vocal critic of the policies adopted by the Union government as well as J&K administration. In 2020, the J&K Police had booked Geelani under the anti-terror legislation for “indulging in unlawful activities through his posts and writings on Social Media platform (sic) which are prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India.”

Also raided was the house of a lawyers who has been representing defendants in anti-militancy cases.

“Some of the journalists searched on Saturday had fiercely criticised government actions following the 2019 scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, but subsequently toned down their opposition,” The Telegraph noted.

In addition to Geelani and Kralyari, Deccan Herald quoted a local news gathering agency as having reported that Hakim Rashid Maqbool, who works with a local English daily, Khalid Gul, a former journalists, Qazi Shibli, who runs an online news portal, and Waseem Raja, a journalist working with a local news organisation, were also raided.

Mukhtar Ahmad Baba, a Turkey-based Kashmiri-origin photo-journalist was also raided.

Sajad Sheikh alias Sajad Gul, a Lashkar commander, and Momin Gulzar, an active militant, were also raided, according to the Deccan Herald report.