Kamran Yousuf's Arrest: 'Covering Bridge Openings, Iftar Parties Journalists’ Moral Duties'

Srinagar—Opposing the bail plea of photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told a Delhi court on Thursday that covering development activities of government departments was a “moral duty” of journalists which the accused had never performed.

Yusuf had been taken into custody on September 5 last year on charges of stone-pelting and working as a conduit for those involved in terror funding, and the Delhi court hearing his bail plea on Thursday had reserved its orders till February 19.

The NIA has listed “not covering the inauguration of a hospital or a school” or a “statement of any political party in power” as further evidence of Kamran not being a “real journalist,” the Indian Express reported.

In a strong rebuttal, however, Yusuf’s counsel, Warisha Farasat had said that despite the NIA’s attempts to define a real journalist, the accused had sufficient material by way of pictures to show that he came within their (NIA’s) definition.

The observations by the NIA are part of the chargesheet into the terror funding and stone pelting in the Valley filed on January 18 against 12 people including Yusuf, a resident of Pulwama

Detailing in the chargesheet what it felt were a “real journalists moral duties” the NIA has said: “Had he been a real journalist/stringer by profession, he may have performed one of the moral duty of a journalist which is to cover the activities and happening (good or bad) in his jurisdiction. He had never covered any developmental activity of any Government Department/Agency, any inauguration of Hospital, School Building, Road, Bridge, statement of political party in power or any other social/developmental activity by state government or Govt of India.”

The chargesheet also mentions social work by the Army and para-military forces in the Valley such as organising “blood-donation camps, free medical check-up, skill development program or Iftar party” among others. “Kamran Yusuf had hardly taken any video of such activity and video or image of any such activity can rarely been seen in his laptop or mobile which clearly show his intention to only cover the activities which are anti-national and earn money against such footages,” said the chargesheet.

According to the NIA, Yusuf was not a “professional” because he did not receive training from any institute. The NIA, after scrutinising the videos in his camera, observed that the video has been taken with a particular intention to cover “anti-national activities” and then provide the same to “local media” for publication.

During bail arguments, Yusuf’s counsel Warisha Farasat submitted to the court that despite NIA defining a “real journalist”, Yusuf had fulfilled all the criteria listed. “We have many pictures to show that Kamran falls under their definition,” she said.

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