Global Journalists’ body, The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Indian authorities and the National Investigative Agency (NIA) to immediately drop charges against photojournalist Kamran Yousuf and release him.
The CPJ is a global non-profit organisation working towards press freedom worldwide.
The counter-terror agency claims that Kamran Yousuf is not a ‘real journalist’ because he did not cover development projects.
“India’s National Investigative Agency is way out of its league and has no business defining what ‘a real journalist’ should cover,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Kamran Yousuf’s work taking photographs of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service in the best spirit of journalism. He should be freed immediately.”
An India based organisation, Network of Women in Media, India, (NWMI) a forum for women media professionals, has said that it is shocked to read that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has laid down what it considers to be the “moral duty of a journalist” in its charge-sheet against Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yousuf.
The charge-sheet against 12 accused dated January 18, 2018, which accuses Yousuf with stone-pelting and conspiracy says: “Had he been a real journalist/stringer by profession, he may have performed one of the moral duty (sic) of a journalist which is to cover the activities and happening (good or bad) in his jurisdiction. He had never covered any developmental activity of any Government Department/Agency, any inauguration of Hospital, School Building, Road, Bridge, statement of political party in power or any other social/developmental activity by state government or Govt of India.”
Kamran was summoned to the local police station on September 4 and handed over to the NIA the next day after which he was flown to New Delhi. On Saturday, Kamran’s case was discussed in the court in New Delhi.
Sources told Free Press Kashmir that the crux of National Investigating Agency’s (NIA) allegations was that he had been present at the spots where incidents of stone pelting had taken place. Kamran’s attorney countered all the allegations. However, the NIA is going to offer a ‘rebuttal’ on January 3 and after that, the bail order might pass.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir on the condition of anonymity, a human rights lawyer from New Delhi, familiar with Kamran’s case, says that he has been ‘kept in custody illegally’.
According to the source, Kamran’s lawyer while countering NIA’s first allegation, argued that Kamran was in fact present at the places where stone pelting took place, as a journalist, and had submitted and pitched those photographs to organisation he freelanced for.
“The defence has shown everything in court. Clearly, there is nothing against Kamran. The court will take the decision and its not in the hands of the defence after that,” the source said, adding that Kamran has been denying all the allegations since day one.
“NIA comes in when it is a very serious offence of some kind. It’s not like your regular state police. Why is his case being separated from everyone else’s? There is no justification on record etc. It’s discriminatory, and plain harassment,” Kamran’s defense lawyer told Free Press Kashmir.