Muslim photojournalist booked for Facebook post in Occupied Kashmir

Police call her posts anti-national, harmful to public peace

Anadolu Agency April 20, 2020
Police in IOJ&K called Masrat Zahra's Facebook posts anti-national and harmful to public peace. PHOTO: TWITTER

SRINAGAR: Authorities in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) on Monday booked a photojournalist under a draconian law for her Facebook post, a move criticised for violating the right to free speech in the so-called world’s largest democracy.

“Cyber police station received information through reliable sources that a Facebook user Masrat Zahra is uploading anti-national posts with criminal intention to induce the youth and to promote offences against public tranquillity,” according to a statement issued by the police.

Zahra has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Section 505 of Indian Penal Code. If convicted, she could face up to seven years in jail.

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Zahra, 26, told Anadolu Agency that she was summoned to the cyber police station on Tuesday.

The case has drawn an online protest from Kashmiri journalists who sent out a tweet: “Masarat Zehra, a professional photojournalist, has honestly told stories of Kashmir in 4-year career. Invoking UAPA is outrageous. In solidarity with our colleague, we demand FIR withdrawn. Journalism isn’t crime. Intimidation/ censorship won’t silence Kashmir’s journalists.”

In a statement, the Kashmir Press Club said the “government, especially the police, need to understand there is a vast difference between journalism and cybercrime”.

The Network of Women in Media India, of which Zahra is a member, said the case against her should be withdrawn.

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"The charges are preposterous in the extreme and amount to rank intimidation of a journalist who has won acclaim for her work, which documents the lived experiences of the people of Kashmir," said the group in a statement.

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