Eight journalist bodies in Jammu and Kashmir and a Norway-based human rights organisation on Thursday released statements against the National Investigation Agency raids in a terror funding case. The central agency raided six non-governmental organisations and trusts in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir earlier in the day, a day after searches were conducted at 10 sites in the Union Territory, and one in Bengaluru.

The central agency has said the case pertains to “raising funds and using it for carrying out secessionist and separatist activities”.

“We condemn the continuous harassment of media institutions and Kashmiri journalists, including Parvaiz Bukhari, an internationally known journalist, who works for Agency France Press as its Kashmir correspondent,” the journalist groups said in the statement. They also noted that the raids and continued harassment of journalists was becoming a norm.

“...we see it as a broader tactic to intimidate and silence professional journalists, who have been reporting on the region without any prejudice for decades,” the groups said. “The journalist fraternity also sees this continuous harassment aimed at silencing reporters and curbing the freedom of press.”

Journalist Federation of Kashmir, Kashmir Press Club, Kashmir Journalist Association, Kashmir Journalist Corps, Kashmir Working Journalist Association, Anjuman-e-Urdu Sahafat Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir National Television Journalist Association, and Kashmir Photo Journalist Association released the joint statement.

The journalist associations also noted that media persons in Kashmir were working in “extremely hostile conditions” and added that the constant harassment by central agencies obstructed their professional duties.

The NIA raids on Thursday were a continuation of its searches from the previous day. The non-profits searched by the agency on Thursday were Falah-e-Aam Trust, Charity Alliance, Human Welfare Foundation, JK Yateem Foundation, Salvation Movement and J&K Voice of Victims. Charity Alliance and Human Welfare Foundation are based in Delhi, while the rest are in Srinagar.

The locations raided on Wednesday included the offices of English newspaper Greater Kashmir and NGO Athroot, the home of human rights activist Khurram Parvez, and a houseboat named HB Hilton in the Dal Lake. The premises of AFP journalist Parvaiz Bukhari, and Khurram Parvez’s associate Parvez Ahmad Matta and Bengaluru-based associate Swati Sheshadri and Parveena Ahanger, the chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons were also searched. Several “incriminating documents and electronic devices” were seized, the agency said.

Also read:

  1. For second day, NIA raids six NGOs, trusts in Delhi, Kashmir in terror funding case
  2. NIA raids Greater Kashmir’s office, NGOs, and human rights activist’s home in Srinagar

The Rafto Foundation, a human rights organisation, said that the accusations against Ahanger and Khurram Parvez lacked “any credibility”. It also condemned the abuse of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to harass people from Kashmir and “silence their freedom of speech, organisation, assembly, movement, communication, or to disrespect their property”.

The foundation said that Ahanger and Khurram Parvez have advocated for the rule of law and democracy to be restored in Kashmir. They are also victims of political violence, and have repeatedly rejected all use of violent methods for any purpose, it added.

“Their freedom of movement and their ability to communicate with others have been restrained, and property has been confiscated,” the statement read. “Cases against them are registered under the UAPA act, seemingly making the very serious accusation that they are utilising funds for secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The group also appealed to the authorities to drop all the charges against the two, to restore their freedoms, and return their property seized. “The allegations made in the NIA statement appear wholly implausible to us,” the organisation’s Director Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt said. “We have worked closely with APDP and JKCCS [Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society] for almost three years, discussing all aspects of their situation. Their denouncement of political violence has been vehement and absolute, whenever the subject of other actors perpetrating such acts came up.”