Stop harassing journalist Auqib Javeed, respect press freedom in Kashmir: CPJ to NIA

Srinagar: On Tuesday, The Committee to Protect Journalists asked India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to stop “harassing” Kashmiri reporter Auqib Javeed and the local daily Greater Kashmir and to respect press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir.

The report published by the committee states that Javeed was summoned by NIA for questioning at the New Delhi headquarters. The report further goes to say that the interrogation took place for three consecutive days, from July 14 through July 16.

According to Sajjad Haider, Javeed’s editor at the Kashmir Observer, Javeed’s lawyer was barred from taking part in the questioning session. Javeed told CPJ that he was questioned about an interview he had done as a freelancer for the Sunday magazine insert in Greater Kashmir with a separatist leader.

He added that the agency had also asked him questions related to his family background, his education, his source of income, and his interview with separatist leader Aasiya Andrabi. Earlier, Andrabi was filed with charges and is currently in the custody of the agency.

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“They asked me to interpret her responses to my questions,” he stated. “I told them I cannot do that as I’m not her spokesperson.” He was further inquired about the number of times he met the separatist leader’s secretary, the person who had arranged the interview and the location where the interview had been conducted.

The agency also reportedly told him ‘not to waste money’ on hiring a lawyer as he wasn’t a suspect.

Javeed’s lawyer hired by Sajjad Haider, Vinod Trisal waited at the reception while the journalist was questioned for three hours on the first day, seven hours on the second, and over an hour on the third.

NIA has also sent a notice to the editor of the local daily, Greater Kashmir to provide the unedited version of the interview, which had earlier been published in January this year, by Wednesday of the same week. It further said that it was justified in requesting the full interview under the Indian Evidence Act at the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“Questioning Auqib Javeed without a lawyer and trying to force Greater Kashmir to submit raw reporting material is a serious attack on press freedom in the turbulent state of Jammu and Kashmir. These attempts to intimidate journalists will only force the flow of news and information to grind to a halt,” stated CPJ Asia’s program coordinator in Washington, D.C, Steven Butler.

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When the CPJ contacted NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal, and inquired about the questioning, he responded, “He has been called in connection with an investigation of a case.”

He did not further elaborate on the nature of the questioning or Javeed’s connection to the case or confirm to which case Javeed was allegedly connected.

Earlier,  National Investigation Agency (NIA) Friday sent a notice to a Kashmir based journalist Auqib Javeed and asked him to present himself at NIA headquarters in New Delhi on July 15 due to his ‘acquaintance with the circumstances’ with a case under investigation.

Javeed, at present, working with daily Kashmir Observer as a correspondent has been summoned to NIA headquarters in connection with the case No RC-17/2018/NIA/DLI, Dated 27th April, 2018.

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“It appears you are acquainted with the circumstances of the case which is under investigation by the Superintendent of Police NIA New Delhi under chapter XII code of criminal procedure, you are therefore requested to attend before the undersigned at NIA headquarters on 15 July for the purpose of your examination relating to the case,” reads NIA notice.

The summon, he says, was a shock to him and his family.

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