IFJ, IJU Ask J&K Authorities To ‘Stop Persecuting’ Journalists

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Srinagar: Four days after a Kashmiri journalist was reportedly thrashed and abused by police over a news story, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its India affiliate Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on Wednesday asked Jammu and Kashmir authorities to stop “persecuting” journalists for doing their jobs.

Auqib, an accredited journalist with Kashmir Observer, was verbally summoned by the Cyber Police station on September 18 over his story titled, ‘The real cyberbully: Police in Kashmir question Twitter Users’ which appeared in ‘Article 14” a New Delhi based web portal.

According to Auqib, he was slapped twice by a masked cop outside the room of Superintendent of Police of the Cyber Wing, Tahir Ashraf Bhatii when he was on way to meet the officer on Saturday. The SP, he said had also hurled choicest abuses at him.

In a statement issued today, the IFJ and IJU condemned the police’s “highhandedness” and urged the Indian authorities to stop such the “violence and intimidation” of journalists.

“The summoning of journalists by police and security persons has become common practice in the valley. The higher ups in the police and security agencies must sensitize the subordinates to respect freedom of expression rights of media,” IJU President Geetartha Pathak said in a joint statement issued today.

The IFJ said that it has documented a disturbing series of attacks and harassment of media and journalists in Jammu and Kashmir following extended internet shutdown.

“The IFJ demands that authorities stop persecuting journalists and media workers for doing their jobs and ensure that any internet restrictions are lifted,” the statement said.

The statement further said that the journalists in the J&K region are frequently “harassed, threatened and summoned” particularly over any criticism of the Indian government revocation of article 370 which lead to the imposed internet shutdown in August 5, 2019.

“On July 31, Qazi Shibli, the editor of news portal The Kashmiriyat , was detained while Fahad Shah, editor of news portal Kashmir Walla, was summoned on May 20. The police in Srinagar also filed separate investigations or First Information Reports (FIR) against Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra and journalist Gowhar Geelani on April 18 and April 21 respectively. And, cyber police in Srinagar questioned journalist Peerzada Ashiq on April 19 in relation to the journalist’s news articles,” the statement added.

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