Four journalists were questioned yesterday by police in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir after their homes were searched and documents, laptops and mobile phones were seized from them.
A senior police officer told NewsMadura the raids were related to an ongoing investigation into a website – kashmirfight.wordpress.com – accused of posting threatening messages against journalists.
The website is blocked in India.
The four journalists – Showkat Motta, Hilal Mir, Azhar Qadri and Shah Abbas – were not arrested, police said. A senior officer said they were subpoenaed after their names were revealed during the investigation, and they were asked to participate in the investigation.
A local journalist pointed out the irony of the situation – that journalists were questioned about a website that makes accusations against professionals.
In 2018, police had alleged that the website — which they said was operated from Pakistan — was behind a vicious campaign that led to the assassination of Shujat Bukhari — the founding editor of the Srinagar-based newspaper Rising Kashmir.
In July this year, five people, including an officer of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, and his daughter and son-in-law, were arrested for running the “terror web portal”.
Police described their arrest as a “big breakthrough”.
However, sources said the police were unable to press charges to establish the involvement of those arrested due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
However, it appears that content is still being uploaded; yesterday’s raids came a day after the website made serious allegations against the editors of four Srinagar-based newspapers.
Some journalists have also claimed that action against the website in question is part of a wider crackdown on the media in Kashmir, and that dissent is being criminalized.
Over the past two years, there have been frequent incidents of harassing journalists.
Some of them have been summoned for questioning at police stations and others have been suspended under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act), the strict anti-terror law.