A court in Shopian district of Kashmir has directed the police to arrest journalist Gowhar Geelani after he did not comply with a notice asking him to appear on February 7. In an arrest warrant dated February 12, a Shopian magistrate has said that Geelani must be produced before the court on February 19.

On February 3, the Shopian court had issued a notice to Geelani under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, under which an executive magistrate may direct a person to sign a bond to maintain peace.

The notice had directed Geelani to appear before the court and explain why action should not be initiated against him under Section 107.

The notice said that after Kashmir Police Assistant Sub-Inspector Shabir Ahmad Wagay was shot at by terrorists in Amshipora on February 1, Geelani posted information on social media that would have “endangered the life of the injured individual and other persons”.

The notice also said that Geelani’s actions raised security concerns and amounted to breach of peace. Wagay was hospitalised and survived the attack, according to The Times of India.

The notice said that even after the attack on Wagay, Geelani continued to act in a manner “prejudicial to public interest.”

Referring to a previous criminal case against Geelani under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code, the notice said that he had continued to “clandestinely” propagate information and activities that could disturb public tranquility.

In view of “apprehensions” that Geelani would continue with “activities that could disturb peace”, he was directed to appear before the court.

In April 2020, Geelani had been arrested for allegedly “indulging in unlawful activities” through social media that are “prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India”. The police had alleged that Geelani had been glorifying terrorism in the Kashmir Valley through his posts.

Crackdown on Kashmiri journalists

Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah was arrested on February 4 by the Pulwama Police for allegedly posting “anti-national” content on social media. Shah is the editor-in-chief of news portal The Kashmir Walla. The police had claimed that Shah uploaded the content with criminal intent and to create fear among the public. They also claimed that his posts could lead to disturbance of law and order situation.

Sajad Gul, also a journalist from Kashmir, was arrested and booked under criminal conspiracy and other charges on January 5 after he posted a video of a family shouting anti-India slogans after their kin was killed in a gunfight in Srinagar. Gul was later detained under the Public Safety Act, a preventive detention law, on January 16, a day after a court had given him bail in a criminal conspiracy case.

Also read: ‘What is my crime?’: Kashmiri journalist Gowhar Geelani after being prevented from travelling abroad