FIR against 2 news portals in Kashmir after reporting a ‘forced’ Republic Day function

An FIR has been registered against The Kashmiriyat and The Kashmir Wala, two Kashmir based news websites after a complaint was filed by the Indian Army on Sunday.

Both the portals had reported that Jamia Siraj ul Uloom, a religious school in the Shopian district of Kashmir was forced to hold Republic Day celebrations on 26 January by the Indian Army. The complaint filed by the Army to the J&K Police has noted this as ‘fake’ and ‘baseless’.

A video clip of the Republic Day function in the school went viral on social media. In the video, men and young boys can be seen holding the Indian flag while the national anthem played in the background. Later, The Kashmir Wala and the The Kashmiriyat reported that the founder-chairman of the school, Muhammed Yusuf Manto had told their reporters on record that the Army has been pressurising the school to hold Republic Day celebrations since a month.

The school is located close to a Police station and two military garrisons.

The school administration later came out with a letter, which denied the claims in the report. The letter signed by the head of the school stated that “there was not any compulsion on behalf of any army personal and police. The news item appeared in news portals Kashmiriyat and Kashmir Wala regarding pressure for organising such events and the hand of security agencies is negated as being totally baseless allegation.”

The Police has filed the FIR under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).

The editors of both the portals has refuted the allegations.

“The Kashmir Wala stands by our reporting and will produce related evidence if and when required in a court of law.”, Fahad Shah, Editor in Chief of Kashmir Wala said on Twitter.

“We stand by our story. This is not the first time The Kashmiriyat has been intimidated, we have a history of running though such barriers. I have been arrested for my work in the past and lived catastrophic conditions in there. But I do understand how important this is for me, all of us to stay the course in the age of misinformation and concocted stories”, said Qazi Shibli, editor of The Kashmiriyat.

He told Maktoob that it is very unfortunate that the Army instead of giving a counter-statement has lodged an FIR.

“The Public needs to understand it is important for them to support independent media. If the Government is the master funder to any media enterprise, it is bound to be in certain barriers.”, Shibli added.

The DIGIPUB News Foundation, an association of digital-only news ventures and freelancers has condemned the lodging of FIR against the portals.