Journalist Gowhar Geelani booked for ‘unlawful’ activities on social media


The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cyber police has taken cognizance of “misuse” of social media and filed an FIR after receiving information about author and journalist Gowhar Geelani, “indulging in unlawful activities through his posts and writings on social media”. He is a third journalist from the Kashmir Valley to be booked in the past two days.

In a statement, J&K Police said they received information from sources that an individual named “Gowher Geelani” was indulging in unlawful activities through his writings on social media.

The J&K Police said that Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone, Srinagar has received information through reliable sources that “an individual namely Gowher Geelani is indulging in unlawful activities through his posts and writings on social media platform which are prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India”.

Earlier, J&K police booked a Kashmiri photojournalist, Masrat Zehra under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for “uploading antinational posts with criminal intention.”

The J&K Police also filed a general FIR in connection with a news item published in ‘The Hindu’ regarding an encounter in Shopian, South Kashmir.

The Editors Guild of India, in a statement, expressed shock and concern about “the high handed manner in which the law enforcement agencies in Jammu and Kashmir have used the prevailing laws to deal with two Srinagar-based journalists, Masrat Zahra, a young freelance photographer, and Peerzada Ashiq, a reporter working for The Hindu. While only an FIR has been filed in connection with a report filed by Peerzada Ashiq, the authorities in the Union Territory have used the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Masrat Zahra.”

The statement further read: “Any recourse to such laws for merely publishing something in the mainstream or social media is a gross misuse of power. Its only purpose can be to strike terror into journalists. The Guild also believes that this is an indirect way of intimidating journalists in the rest of the country as well.”

Masrat Zahra, who was called in for questioning to cyber cell on Tuesday, wrote on Twitter: “I met the concerned police officials of the case and answered their questions regarding the investigation, I have not been arrested and the investigation is going. Thanks all for the support.”

Delhi-based journalist Vijaita Singh tweeted on behalf of her collegue Peerzada Ashiq.

“The Hindu’s correspondent in Srinagar, @peerashiq was called for questioning by the Cyber Police in Srinagar on Sunday and then again on the same evening by the Anantnag police before being permitted to return home”
This is nothing but police overreach.”

National Conference (NC) leader and Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also tweeted in support of journalists: “No ifs, no buts, no whataboutery – this campaign of FIRs against journalists & commentators in Kashmir IS WRONG & must stop. If your version of events is so weak that you have to charge these people it says more about what is happening in Kashmir than anything they have written.”

Meanwhile, Ilteja tweeted from her mother and former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti’s Twitter account.

“Absurd that filing FIRs & slapping anti terror laws like UAPA against journalists is being done at breakneck speed even in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Latest addition being @GowharGeelani. This is the ‘heaven’ reserved for minorities in India,” she said.

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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