Fresh terrorist threats against journalists has further silenced the beleaguered media in Kashmir. At least five journalists working with a local newspaper in Srinagar have resigned after a propaganda arm of terrorists put out a list of over a dozen journalists, accusing them of being informers of security forces.
Police say The Resistance Front (TRF), which is an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba, is behind the threats. A First Information Report, or FIR, under anti-terrorist law UAPA has been registered and investigations have been launched.
“The content of the post clearly depicts the intention of terrorists and anti-national elements. They have put the life of people, especially media persons, in danger by publicly calling them corrupt and giving direct threat to their lives. In this regard, an FIR stands registered,” a police officer said.
Official sources said around a dozen suspects have been rounded up by the police and are being questioned for their alleged links with TRF.
“We have rounded up suspects for being over ground workers (OGWs) of TRF. The detentions are not exactly linked to threats against media houses,” said an officer.
Three reporters have published resignations on their social media pages to avoid any trouble, as terrorists have threatened to target anyone working for three media houses in Srinagar.
A young reporter who was covering the civic beat says he has been accused of propagating the army narrative. He chose to leave his job.
“I have been reporting about civic issues, water, drains, and transport. I have never reported anything on army or covered any army function so far. Yet they have branded me as an Army informer,” the reporter said.
There’s a lack of voices to speak on the targeting of journalists. Journalist associations have disappeared in the Valley. Press Club of Kashmir has been shut down. Such is the fear that those who have been targeted are quietly accepting it as fait accompli.
In Kashmir, journalists have often been under threat. Shujat Bukhari, Editor of Rising Kashmir, who was killed in June 2018 by terrorists, is part of over a dozen Kashmiri journalists who were killed for their work.
Since 2019, when Kashmir’s special status was revoked, several journalists have been jailed and called for questioning by the police.
Many have been put on the no-fly list and disallowed from travelling abroad. Recently, a Pulitzer winning Kashmiri journalist was stopped from flying to New York to receive the prize.
BJP says such threats are unacceptable and no one should be allowed to target journalists.
“Terrorists have touched new lows, which is against people and against the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression,” RS Pathania, spokesman of the BJP, said.