The homes of four journalists in Jammu and Kashmir were raided by the police on Wednesday, AP reported. The action was taken against journalists Hilal Mir, Showkat Motta, Shah Abbass and Azhar Qadri.
A senior police official told Scroll.in that they were questioned about a blog called “Kashmir Fight”, which is reportedly run from Pakistan.
The blog drew attention after the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari in 2018.
The four journalists were released after the questioning, but they will be summoned again on Thursday.
Mir is a former editor of the newspaper Greater Kashmir and also wrote frequently for the Turkish television network TRT.
Abbass wrote for Greater Kashmir’s Urdu sister-publication Kashmir Uzma as well as Spanish news agency EFE. Qadri was associated with The Kashmir Walla.
Matta was the editor of Kashmir Narrator, a magazine that has shut down.
Aasif Sultan, a journalist who also worked with the magazine, has been in jail since August 2018. The police have accused him of working for the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have not issued a statement on the raids yet.
The posts in the blog for which the journalists were questioned had targeted and vilified Bukhari and other journalists, politicians and activists in the Valley who were engaged in Track II diplomacy, or discussions that take place outside the ambit of the official dialogue.
A few days ago, the blog had published another post, this time targeting the local Kashmiri press and prominent editors.
The four journalists were questioned on Wednesday at the Kothibagh police station in Srinagar. Their phones and laptops had been seized, according to AP.
Journalists in Jammu and Kashmir have reportedly faced more threats and harassment after the Centre scrapped the erstwhile state’s special status in 2019.
In June, the United Nations had expressed concern about the “alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation” of journalists in the region.
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The UN statement had cited the examples of The Kashmir Walla Editor-in-Chief Fahad Shah, independent journalists Auqib Javeed and Sajar Gul, and The Kashmiriyat editor Qazi Shibli.
Shah had reportedly been detained without a warrant by the police in Srinagar in 2017, the UN said in the document. “Shah was allegedly interrogated for eight hours by a group of officers who inquired about his journalistic work and his travels,” it added.
In January, a first information report had been filed against The Kashmir Walla for an article about Indian Army personnel allegedly forcing a school in Shopian district to hold a Republic Day event.
Meanwhile, Javeed in September 2020 had allegedly been threatened and slapped by the police for his report about some officials intimidating Twitter users.
Shibli had been detained in Anantnag in 2019 for a story about the deployment of security forces in Kashmir, the UN said.
The UN also mentioned the sealing of the Srinagar office of Kashmir Times, a leading English daily of the Valley in 2020. The world body also sought a reply from the Indian government about the measures taken to ensure that journalists could work in a safe environment.