Delhi LG gives sanction to prosecute Shehla Rashid for her 2019 tweets about Indian Army
The activist had written about the alleged human rights violations by the Army after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has given sanction to prosecute activist Shehla Rashid in a 2019 sedition case related to her tweets about the Indian Army, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
On August 18, 2019, Rashid had tweeted that Indian Army personnel had tortured four men in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, placing a microphone next to them “so that the entire area could hear them scream, and be terrorised”.
The allegations were part of a Twitter thread in which Rashid had recounted what she had heard from those who had travelled out of Kashmir after the Valley was placed in a lockdown on August 5, 2019, as the Centre revoked the erstwhile state’s special constitutional status and split it into two Union Territories. The restrictions were later removed gradually.
The Delhi lieutenant governor’s office has said her tweets about the Indian Army were aimed at “promoting enmity between different groups” and “indulging in acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”, according to ANI.
In September 2019, the Delhi Police had filed a sedition case against the former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader based on a complaint by Supreme Court lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The Army had also refuted the allegations leveled by Rashid, saying that they were baseless and unverified.
The proposal to prosecute Rashid was sent by the Delhi Police and supported by the Home Department.
“The nature of the case, location to which the tweets refers and making false allegations against the Army makes it a serious issue,” the Home Department said, according to The Indian Express.
The department claimed that “religious fault lines have been created” in Jammu and Kashmir by people like Rashid. “The case is made for prosecution under Section 153A IPC [Indian Penal Code]. This relates to public order.”
Case ‘frivolous, politically motivated’
In 2019, Rashid had said that the case against her was “frivolous, politically motivated and pathetic attempt” to silence her. “In my tweets, I have clearly mentioned that these are based on information received from people in the state,” she had said.
The activist had added that in a situation where journalists were not allowed to report and communication had been cut off, it was necessary to “put out narratives of the people” so that the rest of country could know what was happening there.
In an interview to Scroll.in, Rashid had said she received the information about the alleged torture from a person who had travelled from Shopian to Delhi.
“I know the exact details of the place where this happened but I do not want to give them away in case a state agency may go there,” she added. “Time will prove who is right and who is wrong. I am not lying. If anything, this should make the government more alert to avoid such abuse of human rights.”
Asked if she had verified the information, Rashid had said: “How can you verify when the government has shut down newspapers and all other communications? It is impossible to verify and that is not my fault.”
She pointed out that as an activist, it was her job to make people aware of the situation. “I believe it to be the truth,” Rashid added. “These are real stories of real people. And my purpose is to highlight them without any exaggeration.”