The Kashmir Press Club on Monday expressed concerns about the alleged harassment of journalists in the region, and demanded that the media be allowed to operate freely as mandated by Constitution. This came a day after a journalist was detained by the police, and questioned. Last week, the press club had pointed out instances of journalists being unable to operate freely due to alleged obstruction and intimidation by authorities.
“The Kashmir Press Club demands Home Minister Amit Shah as well as the J&K government to take note of the appalling conditions in which press in Kashmir is working since August 5 last year,” read the statement. “As such, it is once again urged that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and speech is being respected in the region by allowing press and journalists to function freely.”
The press organisation said journalist Kamran Yousuf of news website Newsclick was picked up by a group of police personnel around 11 pm on Sunday. The police team was led by the deputy superintendent of police and the station house officer of Pulwama station. “I saw policemen surrounding our premises,” Yousuf said. “The police official asked me [to] come along and snatched my phones.”
He was reportedly taken to the Pulwama station, and questioned about a Twitter account operated by a person identified as Kamran Manzoor. “They checked my phones and searched everything on it,” the journalist added. The police told Yousuf they suspected he was running the account.
The journalist was finally released around 1 am. “The police’s nocturnal raid at the house of a journalist has once again highlighted the dangers faced by journalists in the Valley,” the press club added.
The Centre suspended internet services in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh on August 5, just before revoking the region’s special constitutional status. Limited mobile 2G internet services were restored for both prepaid and postpaid connections only on January 25. On Saturday, the administration of the Union Territory whitelisted 1,485 websites for access in the region but extended the ban on high-speed 3G and 4G internet services till February 24. In an order, the authorities said “internet speed shall be restricted to 2G only”.