New Delhi: A court in Jammu and Kashmir has denied anticipatory bail to Kashmir Walla editor-in-chief Fahad Shah and reporter Yashraj Sharma in a case lodged against them for reporting that a religious school in Shopian district had been forced by the Army to hold a Republic Day function on January 26, Scroll.in has reported.
An additional sessions judge’s court in Shopian in its February 2 order held that there was no “exceptional reason and sufficient ground” to grant the journalists anticipatory bail, the report said.
Quoting the Scroll.in report, Fahad Shah took to Twitter to say that his publication stands by the report.
Yes, that’s exactly what happened. And @tkwmag still stands with the story.
J&K court denies interim relief from arrest to ‘Kashmir Walla’ journalists in Shopian school casehttps://t.co/NagsFsgqQ2
— Fahad Shah (@pzfahad) February 12, 2021
Reporter Yashraj Sharma cited the unique disparity between the court’s judgment and the Supreme Court observing in 2020 that bail is the rule.
The court noted that the “arrest was a part of process of investigation which enables the unrevealing of the various facts of crime including the motive, preparation and its commission”.
In another case, SC said: “Bail is rule, jail is exception.” https://t.co/39Vn0wa0k7
— Yashraj Sharma (@yashjournals) February 12, 2021
A video clip of a Republic Day function at the religious school Jamia Siraj ul Uloom, in which men and young boys were seen holding the tricolour while the Indian national anthem played in the background, went viral on social media. It was touted as a rare incident since few religious schools in Kashmir celebrate Republic Day.
Following this, two news portals The Kashmir Walla and The Kashmiriyat claimed in their news reports that Muhammad Yusuf Manto, the founder and chairman of the school, had told their reporters on record that the Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles had been pressurising the school administration to hold a Republic Day function for about a month, The Wire reported.
The Kashmir Walla had reported the story first.
Later, the school administration issued a circular denying the allegations made in the news reports. The statement issued by the school administration denied “any compulsion on behalf of any army personal (sic) or police”.
Based on a complaint from the Indian Army, an FIR was lodged against the Kashmir Walla journalists under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR accused them of spreading fake news.
The Kashmiriyat was also named by the police for publishing the same report, the Scroll.in report said.