RSF Hits Out At J&K Cyber Police For ‘Assaulting’ Journalist

Srinagar: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday condemned the assault on Kashmiri journalist Auqib Javeed by police last week, and termed the behavior of cyber police akin to “authoritarian regimes and unworthy of Indian democracy”.

In a statement, Paris based media watchdog, said that RSF condemns the threats and violence, including being slapped in the face, to which Kashmiri journalist Auqib Javeed was subjected during a five-hour interrogation by cyber-police in Srinagar after writing about their intimidation of Twitter users.

“Such behaviour is unacceptable in a democracy,” RSF said.

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 Bangalore 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.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that members of the police manhandled, threatened and intimidated a journalist who just did his job,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“The behaviour of the Srinagar cyber-police is typical of authoritarian regimes and unworthy of Indian democracy. We call on the federal authorities to punish those responsible for the violence against Auqib Javeed,” he added.

Quoting Auqib, the RSF statement said that he was still in a state of shock when he spoke to RSF on 21 September and, earlier that day, he had written about his brutal treatment by the police two days before.

“I fear for my life now,” Javeed told RSF. “I believe that the authorities could go to any lengths to silence me and could arrest me on an fabricated charge.”

RSF said that it was not the first time Auqib has been subjected to intimidation in connection with his work. The global media watchdog said that the National Investigation Agency, India’s counter-terrorism police, interrogated him for three hours in July 2018 for interviewing a Kashmiri separatist leader.

“His phone was also taken and never returned,” the RSF said.

RSF said that last week it condemned police “violence” against three other journalists in Kashmir.

“While covering an exchange of shots between separatists and government forces on 15 September, Newsclick photographer Kamran Yousuf and reporters Faisal Bashir and Reshi Irshad were beaten by several policemen, one of them with a baton,” the RSF added.

India is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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