J&K police slap UAPA on female photojournalist

Female freelance photojournalist Masrat Zahra has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act over social media post. A case FIR No. 10/2020 U/S 13 UA(P) Act and 505-IPC have been registered in Cyber police station, Kashmir Zone.

Masrat’s photostories stress on grief and agony brewing in the valley due to atrocities from Indian force. The FIR accuses Zahra of ‘uploading anti-national posts with criminal intention to induce the youth and to promote offences against public tranquillity.’

Zahra told Maktoob that she has not been informed officially that a case has been registered against her. “My colleagues told me about it,” she said.

She said to Maktoob that she was asked to immediately report to the Cyber Police Station in Srinagar on Saturday evening. “Since there was a lockdown and I didn’t have a curfew pass, I told them [the police] that I cannot come immediately,” Zahra said. “They pressurised me to come but I didn’t go. They didn’t mention a first information report.”

Zahra added that after the call from the police, she approached senior journalists for help.

“I immediately brought the call to the notice of senior journalists and office bearers of Kashmir Press Club,” she told Maktoob. “Later that evening, I got a call from one of the KPC [Kashmir Press Club] members and they told me that the matter has been solved and I didn’t need to go. They told me that they have spoken to police higher-ups about the matter.”

Journalists are pouring in condemning the police action to silence freedom of the press.

Masrat Zahra’s work has published in Internationally with organisations like Washington Post, Aljazeera, TRT World, The Caravan magazine etc. Her photos were critically acclaimed for the deep understanding of women in the valley.

“This is a brazen attack on the Right to Freedom of Expression. Government must revoke this case & end all forms of intimidation on other journalists too for their work,” Kashmiri rights activist Khurram Parvez wrote in facebook.

Zahra is the second journalist in Kashmir who has been booked under UAPA. Earlier, Srinagar based journalist Asif Sultan was also booked under the same act for allegedly “providing logistical support to a banned militant organisation.”

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