The journalist bodies have vehemently condemned the police raid against four journalists in the valley, Hilal Mir, Shah Abbas, Azhar Qadri, and Showkat Motta.
“The raids by police and paramilitary forces carried out at the respective residences of these journalists is a stark reflection of how authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are targeting journalists,” reads a statement jointly issued by Journalist Federation of Kashmir, Kashmir Working Journalists Association, Kashmir Press Photographers Association, Kashmir Press Club, Kashmir Union of Working Journalists, Kashmir Journalist Association and Kashmir Video Journalist Association.
Following the raids in a one-year-old case under draconian UAPA, the four journalists were summoned to local police stations in Srinagar, where they are being questioned since Wednesday morning. The police did not specify the reason for the raids.
Cops claimed to have seized several documents and electronic devices belonging to the journalists and their spouses during the raids, which lasted for several hours.
Three of the journalists have written for foreign media including TRT World and The Guardian while one is an editor of a monthly news magazine, Kashmir Narrator.
“Shah, Mir, and Motta have been covering Kashmir for over two decades while Qadri has been covering the region for over a decade. All of them have worked with reputed media organisations including national and international organisations and continue to do so,” the statement says.
The journalist bodies in the valley went on to say: “Journalists in Kashmir are working amidst immense pressure, especially since the last three decades. Many of our colleagues have lost their lives or sustained injuries while discharging their professional duties.”
They also pointed out that for the last few years the pressure on the journalists in Kashmir has mounted to unprecedented levels with dozens of incidents of attacks, harassment, and intimidation by authorities that the journalists have reported.
“The assault on freedom of press in Kashmir continues and it appears condemnations made in each case by media groups have fallen on deaf ears in absence of any respite,” reads the statement.