Indian police condemn BBC for article on press freedom in Kashmir | Information

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have “strongly objected” to an article printed by the BBC on press freedom within the Muslim-majority area and have threatened to take authorized motion for “unfairly castigating” its work.

The report by the British broadcaster, headlined “Any story could possibly be your final” – India’s crackdown on Kashmir press, was printed on Friday and highlights the case of a number of Kashmiri journalists incarcerated on “terrorism” expenses, beneath which bail is troublesome to get. The report additionally paperwork the day-to-day harassment and intimidation different journalists have confronted from safety forces.

“The article unfairly castigates efforts of J&Okay Police in sustaining legislation and order and safety in J&Okay as biased in opposition to journalists,” the Jammu and Kashmir Police mentioned in a publish on X, previously referred to as Twitter.

The police “condemned” the try by the BBC to misrepresent the scenario on the bottom, including that it maintains “the very best requirements of professionalism”.

The yearlong investigation by the BBC was printed simply weeks after an impartial Kashmiri information outlet, The Kashmir Walla, mentioned Indian authorities had blocked entry to its web site.

Quite a lot of Kashmiri journalists have been arrested, questioned and investigated in relation to their work since India’s Hindu nationalist authorities scrapped the area’s semi-autonomous standing in 2019 as a part of its efforts to combine the disputed territory into the remainder of the nation.

Anti-India sentiment runs excessive within the Himalayan area, which has seen a bloody rise up because the late Nineteen Eighties. The rebels both need Kashmir to be impartial or merged into neighbouring Pakistan.

India has accused Pakistan of backing the rebels, a cost Islamabad has denied.

New Delhi says its unprecedented motion in 2019 was geared toward rooting out “terrorism” from the territory, which is claimed by each India and Pakistan. Every of the 2 arch-foes administer elements of it. They’ve fought two of their three wars over the area since gaining independence from the British in 1947.

‘Sinister marketing campaign’

The BBC mentioned its reporter spoke to greater than two dozen Kashmir journalists for the article. They included editors and reporters working for impartial and nationwide media organisations.

“The BBC has spent greater than a yr investigating accusations in opposition to the Indian authorities that it’s operating a sinister and systematic marketing campaign to intimidate and silence the press within the area,” the broadcaster mentioned.

“We needed to meet journalists in secret, they usually requested for his or her names to be hidden, fearing reprisals.”

All of these interviewed mentioned the federal government’s arbitrary arrests of media personalities was to ship all journalists a “warning”.

One of many instances highlighted by the UK outlet was that of Aasif Sultan, who labored as an assistant editor for a Srinagar-based English journal.

Sultan has been in jail since August 2018 beneath the Illegal Actions (Prevention) Act or UAPA, and is accused of “harbouring recognized militants”, an allegation he denies.

He has additionally been charged with homicide, try and homicide and different crimes.

The case of Fahad Shah – founding editor of The Kashmir Walla, who was arrested by Indian police beneath an “anti-terror” legislation final yr in February – can also be detailed within the report.

He was accused of “glorifying terrorism” and “spreading pretend information”. Of their publish on X, the Kashmir police defended Shah’s arrest.

“It’s pertinent to say that one of many instances talked about, … that of Fahad Shah, is one the place a trial is already ongoing … and the courtroom has already framed expenses in opposition to him beneath the UAPA for offering terror sympathisers a platform for advocating terrorism,” the police mentioned.

This yr, the media watchdog Committee to Defend Journalists mentioned 62 journalists have been killed in India in reference to their work since 1992.

Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed extra web shutdowns than another nation on this planet final yr, in keeping with Surfshark, a digital non-public community supplier.

India has slipped within the press freedom index since Prime Minister Narendra Modi got here to energy in 2014. It ranks at 161 in a listing of 180 international locations.

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