The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday claimed that an article published by the BBC unfairly castigated its work, and said it reserves the right to take legal action.
The article titled “Any story could be your last – India’s crackdown on Kashmir press” was published on Friday.
The police said in a rebuttal on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it maintains the highest standards of professionalism and functions within the ambit of the law. It took note of a reference in the article to journalist Fahad Shah, who has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The police said that a court has framed charges against Shah under the UAPA for “providing terror sympathisers a platform for advocating terrorism through publishing inflammatory and secessionist articles on its online magazine Kashmir Walla”.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police also said that Yogita Limaye, the author of the article, used “quotes of unidentified journalists in her article to bolster her non-existent claims of state overreach against journalists”. It claimed that the article misrepresents the situation in the Union Territory.
“SIA [State Investigation Agency] J&K Police which is the investigating agency in the Fahad Shah case reserves the right to initiate further legal action against the media house for misreporting facts in a case which is sub judice,” it said.
What did the article say?
The article, which was based on interviews with over two dozen mediapersons, said many journalists saw the government’s actions of filing criminal cases and using preventive detention laws as a warning to them.
Apart from Fahad Shah’s case, the article mentioned police cases against journalists Asif Sultan, Sajad Gul and Irfan Mehraj. While the cases against Sultan and Mehraj were filed under the UAPA, Gul was booked on charges of criminal conspiracy.
The BBC article quoted Asif Sultan’s father Mohammed Sultan as alleging that the government wanted to make an example of his son so that no one would dare to cover topics that the authorities did not approve of.
“Asif is a professional reporter and he has been jailed for writing about the militancy,” Mohammed Sultan told the channel, He has nothing to do with them [militants].”
While the article said that most journalists feared reprisals by the state, it added that some expressed apprehensions about reprisals by militants. It mentioned the killing of Shujaat Bukhaari, the editor of the Rising Kashmir daily, in 2018, and noted that the trial in the case is yet to begin.