Int’l Bodies Flay NIA ‘Harassment’ of Kashmir Media

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SRINAGAR — Various international journalist bodies have alleged that New Delhi was using security agencies as tool to harrass and intimidate Kashmiri journalists saying recent summoning of a Srinagar based reporter to New Delhi amounted to an attack on freedom of press.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on Monday condemned the alleged harassment of journalist Aqib Javeed, and urged National Investigating Agency (NIA) to refrain from ‘misusing its authority to intimidate journalists’.

Brussels-based IFJ in a statement posted on its website said that NIA summons to Auqib Javeed Hakim amounted to an attack on the freedom of the press and meant to intimidate journalists in Kashmir who were already working under difficult circumstances.

The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the NIA over its summoning of a journalist from Srinagar to New Delhi, India for an interview. The summoning is clearly an attempt to intimidate the journalist community of Jammu and Kashmir; and a gross misuse of the authority. The IFJ urges the concerned authorities of India to immediately allow (Auqib) Hakim to conduct his professional activities as a journalist and refrain from harassing journalists in future.”

“The IJU regrets that the Centre is using the NIA as a tool to harass the journalists in Kashmir and alienating them from the mainstream. Doing interviews is part of the journalists’ duties and not a national security threat,” IJU President SN Sihna said.

He urged Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh to immediately intervene and stop harassment of the journalists in a volatile state.

The IFJ said that the government must immediately allow (Auqib) Hakim to conduct his professional activities as a journalist and refrain from harassing journalists in future.

Earlier New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its statement urged the NIA to respect press freedom in Kashmir and stop harassing Kashmir Observer reporter, Auqib Javeed and the local English daily Greater Kashmir. Questioning Auqib Javeed without a lawyer and trying to force Greater Kashmir to submit raw reporting material is a serious attack on press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir, said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator in Washington, D.C.

“These attempts to intimidate journalists will only force the flow of news and information to grind to a halt,” he added.

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) summoned Auqib to New Delhi and questioned him on July 14 and 15 over an interview, relating to a sedition case registered against Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chairperson, Aasiya Andrabi.

“They asked me to interpret her responses to my questions,” he stated. “I told them I cannot do that as I’m not her spokesperson.” He was further inquired about the number of times he met the separatist leader’s secretary, the person who had arranged the interview and the location where the interview had been conducted.

The agency also reportedly told him ‘not to waste money’ on hiring a lawyer as he wasn’t a suspect.

Javeed’s lawyer hired by Kashmir Observer, Vinod Trisal waited at the reception while the journalist was questioned for three hours on the first day, seven hours on the second, and over an hour on the third.

NIA has also sent a notice to the editor of the local daily, Greater Kashmir to provide the unedited version of the interview, which had earlier been published in January this year, by Wednesday of the same week. It further said that it was justified in requesting the full interview under the Indian Evidence Act at the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“Questioning Auqib Javeed without a lawyer and trying to force Greater Kashmir to submit raw reporting material is a serious attack on press freedom in the turbulent state of Jammu and Kashmir. These attempts to intimidate journalists will only force the flow of news and information to grind to a halt,” Butler stated.

When the CPJ contacted NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal, and inquired about the questioning, he responded, “He has been called in connection with an investigation of a case.”

He did not further elaborate on the nature of the questioning or Auqib’s connection to the case or confirm to which case Auqib was allegedly connected.

JRL Condemns Summoning Of KO Reporter By NIA

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik on Tuesday strongly denounced the questioning of Kashmir Observer reporter by NIA, terming it an attempt to instil fear among the Kashmir’s journalist fraternity.  

Auqib, an accredited journalist from Kashmir, was summoned to New Delhi for questioning in connection with an interview done by him of Asiya Andrabi.

“These steps are aimed at instilling fear among the Kashmir’s journalist fraternity to prevent them from highlighting the ultimate oppression unleashed by the lakhs of forces,” the JRL said.

The JRL has termed the shifting of Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi and her two associates Fehmeeda Sofi and Nahida Nasreen to Tihar Jail, Delhi under 30 days of judicial custody by NIA as sheer political vendetta.

 “The move is aimed at building pressure on the resistance leadership to force them into submission,” the JRL said.

The leadership said that NIA and ED have already booked dozens of resistance leaders and Kashmiri businessmen under “frivolous” charges and all those arrested continue to remain lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail along with the dreaded criminals.

 “These leaders are deprived of the fair trial and whenever dates of their trial come closer, the jail authorities evade the trials on one or the other pretext,” it said.

The JRL said that the Kashmiri prisoners languishing in Tihar, Kot Bhalwal, Kathua, and Udhampur are meting very ill-treatment and are even kept away from the basic medical aid, which should serve an eye opener for the international community.

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