Kashmir: 5 Journalists Quit After Their Names Appear on Lashkar 'Threat List'

In a letter published originally on a blog and screenshots of which have been shared on social media, 21 owners, editors and reporters, mostly of three media outlets based in Srinagar have been named.

New Delhi: Threats, allegedly from the proscribed Lashkar-e-Toiba organisation, have led to five journalists based in Kashmir to resign from their jobs, reports say.

The Telegraph has reported that the threats were issued on a blog run purportedly by the LeT and its post-2019 offshoot, The Resistance Front.

Police have begun an investigation into the matter. Srinagar Police tweeted that a “direct threat letter” was issued by the bodies to journalists and reporters based in Kashmir.

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.

“We have rounded up suspects for being over ground workers (OGWs) of TRF. The detentions are not exactly linked to threats against media houses,” an officer told NDTV.

Telegraph has reported that while the blog itself cannot be accessed in Jammu and Kashmir, screengrabs of the purported letter published on the site was shared widely on social media.

In it, 21 owners, editors and reporters, mainly of three Srinagar-based organisations – the newspapers Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir and the news portal and social media TV channel Asian News Network – were mentioned, according to the report. The three are considered to be foremost among independent media houses in the region.

“[T]heir timeline is sealed,” the letters allegedly warned, according to the Telegraph report, which said that the letter claimed to have identified a larger number of 76 people as well.

Among those who have resigned are three journalists from Rising Kashmir – Jahangir Sofi, Ishtiyaq Joo, and Shaharyar Bukhari. Sofi has contributed to The Wire.

Rising Kashmir is the same house which was founded and led by veteran journalist Shujat Bukhari, who was shot dead by assailants outside the paper’s offices in Srinagar in 2018.

Journalists in Kashmir often work through troubling conditions, battling militancy and terror threats, and at the same time, some of the longest government-ordered internet shutdowns in the world and brutal government-led crackdowns against their reporting.