Photo-journalist Sent to NIA Custody Till Sep 19

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Saturday allowed the NIA to conduct custodial interrogation of two men, including a freelance photo-journalist, for three more days in alleged case of stone-pelting in Kashmir Valley and mobilising support against security personnel through the social media. 
The court extended the custody of Javed Ahmed Bhat from Kulgam and Kamran Yusuf from Pulwama till September 19 after they were produced before the court on expiry of a ten-day NIA remand, court sources said.

During the proceedings, the central probe agency sought their custody for seven more days saying they were required to be further quizzed and confronted with the other accused in the case, the sources said.

During the in-chamber proceedings, the NIA also said the two had to be taken to various places in relation to the ongoing investigation, the sources said. Continuing with its probe in the funding of terror and separatist activities in the Kashmir Valley, the NIA had arrested Bhat and Yusuf on September 5.

According to the agency, they were involved in stone-pelting incidents besides organising groups of youths who would throw stones at security personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations.

Yusuf, who had often been warned by the local police, was allegedly mobilising the youth and clicking their pictures for circulation in local and national newspapers, it had said.

The two also circulated pictures and videos on social networking sites that sparked widespread rumours in the Valley, the officials alleged.

The allegations have been denied by the dup and their families.

Kashmir Editors Guild has already sought release of Yousuf and termed the arrests arbitrary.

The Press Council of India has also issued notices to NIA, the J&K police and the state home secretary over the arrest of Kamran Yousuf on September 5. 
In a letter dated September 12, the Press Council cited its authority as a quasi-judicial body set up under an act of Parliament, and asked the officials to file a reply to the notice within two weeks.

“Since the matter [of Yousuf’s arrest] prima-facie concerns the free functioning of the press, the honourable chairman of the Press Council of India [Justice Chandramouli Kumar Prasad] has viewed the incident with concern, and taken suo-motu cognisance of the matter,” the letter read.

On September 4, Yousuf was at a makeshift office of local journalists in Pulwama town when he received a phone call from the local police station. Yousuf was kept there overnight and taken to Srinagar the next day. He was arrested on September 5, allegedly for stone-pelting. “Yousuf was not only involved [in stone-pelting], but was systematically circulating videos and photos of militants to incite youth,” an unidentified NIA official had said.

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