Journalist Fahad Shah arrested for uploading ‘anti-national content’

Ground Report | New Delhi: Journalist Fahad Shah arrested; Shah was earlier questioned by the police for a story published on the news portal regarding the family of one militant who was killed in an encounter in Naira, Pulwama on 30 January. The encounter claimed the lives of four ultras, but the family of the militant had claimed that he was innocent.

A statement issued by the district police in Pulwama stated that “some Facebook users and portals have been uploading anti-national content, including photographs, videos and posts with criminal intention to create fear among the public and the content so uploaded can provoke the public to disturb law & order”.

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The Kashmir Walla is a digital magazine reporting on socio-cultural issues from J&K, that started in 2011. In January 2022, a trainee reporter from the organisation, Sajad Gul, was also arrested under provisions of the Public Safety Act for sharing tweets that allegedly intended to provoke “the people against the government and to spread animosity,” according to reports.

Former J&K Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti expressed her dismay on Twitter.

“Standing up for the truth is deemed anti-national. Showing the mirror to a deeply intolerant & authoritarian government is also anti-national. Fahad’s journalistic work speaks for itself & depicts the ground reality unpalatable to GOI,” she wrote, asking how many Fahads the police would arrest.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that as per the FIR, Shah is being probed for alleged sedition and making statements causing public mischief and illegal activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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The press body also said that prior to his detention, Shah had told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists that the police had asked him on February 1 at Kashmir Wala to publish a report about a gun battle between terrorists and security forces on January 30. Asked for the article. This article was then published on the news portal’s website and Facebook page.

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“Fahd Shah’s arrest reflects the Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ disregard for the freedom of the press and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and securely,” said Steven Butler, the organisation’s Asia Program Coordinator. “The authorities must immediately release Shah and all other journalists behind bars, and stop detaining and harassing journalists just to do their jobs.”

People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone condemned the arrest and said,“What times we are living in,” Lone tweeted. “Just a word caution for the administration. This is not the worst that we in Kashmir have seen. We have seen even worse in nineties. That didn’t change anything. This won’t change anything either. Take my humble word for it.”

Shah was first questioned by the police for a story published on a news portal about the family of a terrorist killed in an encounter in Naira, Pulwama on January 30.

Four militants lost their lives in the encounter, but the terrorist’s family had claimed that he was innocent.

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Kashmir Wala is a digital magazine reporting on socio-cultural issues from Jammu and Kashmir, started in 2011. In January 2022, Sajjad Gul, a trainee reporter of the organisation, was also arrested under the provisions of the Public Safety Act. According to reports, the intention was to “incite people against the government and spread enmity”.

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