SRINAGAR: Police in Kashmir, India, are investigating two journalists for allegedly spreading "false news," authorities said Monday, as a month-long security crackdown persists in the Muslim-majority state.
Kashmir Police Chief Vijay Kumar said independent photojournalist Masrat Zehra, a contributor to several international publications, had been reserved under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act for her "anti-national" posts on Facebook and other social media.
The law allows the government to designate individuals as terrorists and empowers the National Investigative Agency of India to investigate such cases.
The police have not arrested journalists so far.
"The posting of (Facebook) users can cause the public to disturb law and order as well as glorify anti-national activities," Kumar said, in an apparent reference to Zehra's posts on social media.
Recent comments by Zehra, who accused the government of censorship, have focused on the fight for freedom in the occupied region, as well as scenic beauty and issues related to Covid-19.
Press club asks Indian government to differentiate between journalism and cybercrime
"They want to silence me and repress me for taking out the repressed voices and stories from Kashmir," he said Monday. In August, the government revoked the constitutional autonomy of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir by dividing it into two federal territories in an attempt to fully integrate it with India and curb the uprising.
The change in status was accompanied by an offensive that included cutting telecommunications links and brakes on trips and the deployment of thousands of troops.
Kumar also said that Pirzada Ashiq, a journalist who works with the Hindu newspaper, had been summoned for spreading false news in the newspaper about a shooting in which two cashmere were killed last week.
Senior newspaper staff could not be reached for immediate comment.
Kumar said the journalist would be arrested if he was found to have acted deliberately.
The Kashmir Press Club condemned what it described as harassment in the summons of journalists by the police.
Even in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, journalists in Kashmir have been called to police stations and forced to report to explain their stories, a statement issued by the press club said.
The government, especially the police, needs to understand that there is a big difference between journalism and cybercrime, he said.
Posted in Dawn, April 21, 2020