The Kashmir Walla’s founding-editor, Fahad Shah, was summoned by Jammu and Kashmir police cyber cell today afternoon over his reporting on the Srinagar gunfight.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir Shah said, “we are a professional publication and report from Kashmir. Our reportage is based on facts and testimonies. If there are any contested versions, we are duty bound to publish those as well. And we have always done that.”
Following the summon, Shah came out with a public statement.
Here is the full statement of Shah:
On Wednesday noon, I received a phone call from an unknown number. The caller straightaway directed me to report myself to the Cyber Police Station in Srinagar, the reason for the summon was not conveyed over the phone.
I reached the police station at about 1:30 pm and was seated in a room as the staff informed senior officials of my arrival. For the next two hours the reason for the summon was still not conveyed. At about 3:34 pm a senior official led me to another room in the police station where five other police officials, including senior officials, were present.
For the next 15-20 minutes, I was asked questions about my educational background and career, including a list of publications that I write for other than The Kashmir Walla, and my posts on social media. The officials then proceeded to express their objection to our coverage of the aftermath of the Nawakadal gunfight yesterday.
Yesterday, The Kashmir Walla had reported the damaging of at least fifteen residential houses, rendering them uninhabitable amid the pandemic, and allegations of loot against the government forces by the local residents. The officials accused me of “maligning the police’s reputation”.
My response to their objection was that the report were interviews of local residents, on camera, whose houses had been burned. If the police differed with the allegations of the local residents, we would have given equal space to the same in our report as a professional journalist. However, no such clarification was given.
I was asked to leave shortly after this and taken back to the same room where I had waited earlier. I waited in the room for another hour. I was finally allowed to leave the police station at around 6:00 pm.
Two Hizb-ul Mujahideen militants, including Junaid Sehrai, son of Kashmiri resistance leader Ashraf Sehrai, were killed in the gunfight. In the fire-fight which broke out on the intervening night in May 18-19 in Nawakadal area of Srinagar, a Jammu and Kashmir Police constable and a CRPF soldier also sustained injuries.