#JournalismIsNotACrime: Kashmiri journalist booked for reporting on alleged harassment by Top Official

The Kashmir Press Club has called the charges ‘false and fabricated’

Srinagar: Reporter Sajad Gul has been booked by the JK Police after he filed a story about a demolition drive carried out by revenue authorities in Hajin’s Shahgund village of Bandipora district in North Kashmir on February 9, 2021.

In the story, the residents of the concerned village alleged that they were being ‘harassed and threatened’ by the Tehsildar, Hajin over demolition of their houses.

After the report, the journalist claims that the Tehsildar has been harrasing him too.

“Tehsildar Hajin Ghulam Mohammad Bhat has been harassing me from last two weeks by putting baseless allegations like stone pelting and shouting slogans during their demolition drive which happened on 10th February,” Sajad Gul has said in an appeal to the Kashmir Press Club.

“I was out of the station at Rajbagh in Srinagar. I have requested DySP (concerned) to locate my cell phone on that day but to my utter dismay, they are not resolving the matter. The Tehsildar has been threatening me to end my career and put me behind bars for doing the story which is based on sheer truth and facts,” Gul said in his testimony emailed to KPC.

The Kashmir Press Club has expressed deep concern over the filing of an FIR against the young reporter.

In a statement, KPC spokesperson said it had flagged the issue with the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir as well as the Deputy Commissioner about the alleged harassment by the Tehsildar concerned a few days ago but despite their assurances, as reported by the said reporter, an FIR has been registered against him.

“He said that he has been told by the police that on the insistence of the concerned Tehsildar, an FIR vide number 12/2021 dated February 10, 2021, under sections 147, 447 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against him at Police Station Hajin Bandipora. But despite repeated requests, he has not been provided the copy of the FIR by the police.”

“Given this background, involving alleged threats by an official to a journalist for doing a story, and the threats of legal action and fabrications, the Kashmir Press Club urges upon the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Inspector General of Police Kashmir to look into the matter and alleged misuse of his authority by the concerned Tehsildar on whose insistence an FIR has been filed against the concerned reporter.”

The statement by KPC reads that the concerned police officers are also urged to have a considerate view into the matter and thoroughly probe the matter and particularly the assertion by the reporter that he wasn’t even present at the location on that day.

The Club expressed deep concern on registration of FIR against the journalist on “false and fabricated charges” and reiterated that “public-spirited journalism or highlighting the concerns of the affected is one of the primary duties of the media, and implicating a journalist for rendering public services on false and fabricated charges is an assault on journalism”.


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