Masrat Zahra is a Kashmiri photojournalist | Facebook
Masrat Zahra is a Kashmiri photojournalist | Facebook
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New Delhi: A Srinagar-based independent photojournalist has been booked by the Jammu and Kashmir Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly glorifying “anti-national activities” on social media.

In a statement issued Monday by the Cyber Police Station (Kashmir Zone), the police accused Masrat Zahra of uploading “anti-national” posts with the criminal intention to induce the youth and promote offences against public tranquility.

“Cyber Police Station received information through reliable sources that one Facebook user namely Masrat Zahra is uploading anti-national posts … Facebook user is also believed to be uploading photographs which can provoke the public to disturb law and order. The user is also uploading posts that tantamount to glorify anti-national activities and dent image of
law enforcing agencies besides causing disaffection against the country,” said the police in the statement.

Although the police didn’t specify which posts of Zahra’s were unlawful, police officials cited a picture post she tweeted from her 2019 article in The New Humanitarian.

Under the amended UAPA law, individuals can be designated as terrorists and can be sentenced to jail for up to seven years.

Speaking to ThePrint, Masrat described the police action as an attempt to suppress her from bringing out stories of repression in Kashmir.

“I am among the very few female photojournalists in Kashmir and have been working really hard to learn and to create my space for the past four years. They (police) want to silence me. They want to suppress me as I bring out the repressed voices and stories of Kashmir,” she said.

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Also read: These 4 dreaded killers are Modi govt’s first ‘designated terrorists’ under UAPA


Charges against Zahra

Zahra was booked under section 13 of the UAPA and section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on 18 April.

While section 13 of UAPA pertains to unlawful activities, section 505 of the IPC refers to offences against any class or community that causes, fear or alarm to the public. Punishment includes imprisonment for three years and/or a fine.

The section is also used to book individuals who allegedly make, publish or circulate any statement, rumour or report with the intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any offi­cer, soldier in the Army to mutiny.

Zahra had recently shared photographs she had taken for a story back in December 2019. In it, she talks about Arifa Jan, whose husband was allegedly killed by the Indian Army in 2000.

“Arifa Jan suffers frequent panic attacks nearly 2 decades after her husband was gunned down by Indian army in 2000, she can still hear the gunshots and sees her husband’s blood-soaked body when she thinks of him,” she posted last week.

Zahra also quoted Arifa to say that the man was shot 18 times.


Also read: This is how Kashmiris used Facebook, Twitter despite Modi govt ban on social media


‘Got to know through a friend’

Zahra told ThePrint that she had initially been summoned to the J&K’s Special Operation Group (SOG) headquarters, Cargo, in Srinagar on Saturday. However, she wasn’t informed why.

After the intervention of journalist colleagues, civil administration officials and senior police officers, she was informed that she was not required to go. However, the same evening, the FIR was filed.

Masrat found out about the charges Monday after a friend called her.

“In the morning a friend of mine called me and told me some journalists had tweeted that I had been booked by police. I saw the posts and then read more about the sections of UAPA I was booked under. I was speechless for a moment but my main concern at that time was not to panic my family,” Zahra said.

Zahra, like most everyone, has been staying home indoors in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s not like other shutdowns in Kashmir where one can go out to work because you can potentially be a risk to your own family if infected. So I had been home and not shared any of my work as I had essentially not been working. Recently I shared photographs I had clicked for a story I had done in 2019. That is what seems to have irked the police,” she said.


Also read: What new J&K domicile rule is and how it impacts residents of the union territory


Work in Kashmir

Zahra has over the years contributed to several national and international news agencies such as The Washington Post, The Sun, Al Jazeera and The Caravan.

Her Twitter feed includes many posts on Kashmir, the militancy, updates on Covid-19 in the state, and the occasional scenic photograph of Kashmir.

Her feed today included retweets of several colleagues and Kashmiris criticising the police action against her.

Reacting to the FIR, the Kashmir Press Club described the move as harassment.

“She (Masrat) was summoned to Cyber Police Station, Aircargo in Srinagar on April 18, 2020. However after Kashmir Press Club and Directorate of Information intervened at the highest level, the police dropped the summon. But now it emerges the police have filed a case against her with stringent charges and stringent acts and as per the conversation with Masrat, she has been asked to come to the Police Station concerned on Tuesday, April 21, 2020,” said the KPC.

The statement also mentioned another journalist, Peerzada Ashiq, who reports for The Hindu, who was questioned for alleged inaccuracies while reporting.

The New Delhi-based Network of Women in Media demanded the FIR against Masrat be dropped, and described the charges as preposterous in the extreme, amounting to intimation.

The J&K Peoples Democratic Party said these incidents were a “systematic pattern of assault on freedom of expression”, while former minister Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference condemned the FIR.

“Is this the new state of affairs? Things weren’t too good in the old state of affairs either but attempts to silence the media were not as brazenly and shamelessly implemented … We express our solidarity with Masrat Zahra,” said party spokesperson Adnan Ashraf.

Journalists in the region have often accused the administration of not allowing press freedoms and harassing them by having them questioned or booked by police. Earlier this year in February, the Kashmir Press Club came out with a statement documenting the harassment against nearly dozen journalists in the Valley, including those working for regional and national news publications.

International bodies such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders have also time and again raised concerns over the situation of press freedoms in the region.

(With inputs from Revathi Krishnan, New Delhi)


Also read: ‘Appalling condition’ for media — Kashmir journalists ask govt to stop muzzling free speech


 

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36 Comments Share Your Views

36 COMMENTS

  1. Shameless Terrorists supporting Terrorism
    What do they have about Kashmiri pandits
    Filthy people killed and raped them and sent them out of the valley
    History repeats
    Go to and suck eggs in Islamic states
    If don’t like to live in India

  2. OHHH SO indian army has committed atrocities on Indian occupied kashmir? Well, they are men in uniform, give me a 50 calibre Browning machine gun, see what havoc I do !!!!! I will make kashmir into a graveyard, and this womann in my harem. I will doo to kashmiri muslims EXACTLY what they did to kashmiri hindus. I will have peace in kashmir, peace of the graveyard.

  3. She must be arrested immediately and sent to jail challan be presented in the court and trial to start .It could have been better she could have been booked under NSA also she can’t be allowed to defame our army .She in one of traitors and these persons on one side demand facilities from Govt and and other side they always criticise india . We all use Shri as respectful and honorable for every bhartiy or indian or hindustani and Sri nagar Ramban and Anant nag cities Son marg baltal jammu kathua and batout mishra Doda punch rajouri. Udham pur. Pulhama Patni top. all are known for ancient sanatan culture and shankra chararaya temple Amarnath cave vaishno devi temple and Shri raghunath temple and khir bhawani temple other holy
    places in valley .She always propagated indian occupied kashmir and I doubt her being kashmiri I believe her ancesters as invaders from Afganistan Mughal Saudi Arabia or Central Asia even turkistan and Mangol who invaded kashmir in 13 th century and this point must be enquired change or conversion does not mean change of nationality .

  4. Where was this terrorist lady,when lakhs of Hindu women were brutally raped and killed by her jihadi brothers. Can we treat her like this.No we Hindus are peace loving,our faith Advocate nonviolence ,we have tolerated torture harassment of Islamic invaders for 1000 years .

  5. This is not something new in Kashmir these kind of atrocities carried out by government of India and its law enforcement agencies against people of Kashmir have been going on since decades Abduction, torture,rape and killings in intorogation centers by using draconian laws is a normal thing in Kashmir Fake encounters and shooting at blank range on people carrying out peaceful demonstration against such atrocities by men in uniform is a normal thing in Kashmir

    • Why do you forget the exodus, karma is boring you behind your back, kashmiri pandits are still refugees in their own country, we have already accepted you as our brothers and sisters, unless you leave terrorism and do something good for your country you will be termed as terrorists.

  6. There should be no leniency towards anybody be it an ordinary citizen,journalist or political background who talk or instigate people against the country.A deterrent should be their to bring such anti nationals to senses.These people have taken for ride and can write any rubbish against the country with impunity.It is unfortunate that instead of supporting the action of the Govt,some pseudo secularist are raising fingers for their party gains.Feel sorry for them.

    • Beyond ridiculousness.. Nowadays freedom of speech is there in USA in every country.. Just because u show the truth people call her antinationl..what a mockery of democracy…

  7. What type of photographs you shared is that which you don’t want to speak. Journalist doesn’t have 4 horns. Be within the law and report with truth. All fake news reporters are to be dealt severely.

  8. It good to see that now government is taking strong actions against these types of roadside reporter. i glad that my vote to modi ji is working. i also want to see that ” The Print” also stop posting wrong stories about Army ans kasmir. or else get ready to face the consequences.

  9. Well..
    There are many mothers in india who still get night mates because their son sacrifice life for India while serving Indian army.

    Can’t the journalist name a few mothers who sacrificed their son for nation….
    Or the journalist can only come out to support certain specific incidents.

    Did she forgot Mumbai attack where all office goers innocent people were killed by terrorists? Do you know their name..
    Ans well The Print is glorifying this journo ? And not questioning the actual post…

  10. Media which has role of patriotic informative wellbeing of other citizen.
    Nowadays I am seeing that every part of country these press people acting with Motive and defame country.I can say this is not free dom. In the name of freedom can I go and do whatever like to do in a house with a woman shit on road misbehave on road.
    It is a country of 1300 million.need to obey law of Land.you have freedom only in your bath and bedroom there you can do whatever you want.it is not joke running a country like this with you people.what Government did good. I support

  11. Millitant ko glorify karne wale reporter ko to book karnaa hi chahiye, yahi log millitant ke funding par kaam karte hain. Is jahra ko hamare police wale ke pariwar ke prati koi hamdardi nahi hai. Isko millitant ke prati hai.

  12. This liberal gang members should be dealt with iron fist. This journo was hurt by the pain of Arora Jan whose husband, a terrorist, was eliminated by the security forces for his anti national acts. Did she had time or heart to bring forth the stories of lacs of Pandit women who were raped, tortured and killed by the local goons. This is the hypocrisy of these so called journalists. She should be confined to the gallows for the maximum permissable time period.

  13. Unless one sees the articl,/ posts uploaded b6 the Author,it would not be possible to come to any conclusion as to whether Author is right in her contentions.

  14. See a terrorist or anti nationalist. Theprint and scroll will be their for save them with their glorified stories…

  15. She is trying to portray one side picture. Worldwide Muslims have shown that they report biased because they are intolerant towards other religions. Let them cry now as the world over they are no more trusted and cared. They are multipling worst than animals , uneducated,and most hopeless and useless person on this earth.

    • Let the govt take strict action against every such person who by her / his act directly or indirectly with I’ll motive dose any act which she knows very well that this is against the law of the land, peace harmony and integrity of nation is at risk.

      The earlier govts were reluctant to take strict actions against such persons, who kept their political intrest above the intrest of the nation and always played their dirty games by compromising in all aspects,of which today we are suffuring

  16. Kashmir is a very sensitive issue. Specially, it being a bordering state with Pakistan wherefrom regular infiltration bids of terrorists from POK are regularly taking place, more defence expenditure are incurred, more armymen are being killed. In view of above facts, any incitement, provocation may transform the situation in jeopardy. So I think one should avoid such journalism which may invite Govt. wrath.

  17. Kashmir is a very sensitive issue. Specially, it being a bordering state with Pakistan wherefore regular infiltration bids of reforestation POK are regularly taking place, more defence expenditure are incurred, more armament are being killed. In view of above facts, any incitement, provocation of turmoil may transform the situation in jeopardy. So I think one should avoid such journalism which may invite Govt. wrath.

  18. how filthy Indian government is ! this world is not permanent place u hv to leave this what u call heaven ….. i can only pray from Allah there must be dominance of right , justices, equality, parity, no gender discrimination and no fascism …

    • Hey Sarfaraz and I’d even propone to this Zahra woman an Idea about a journalistic inquiry into a piece of recent history, as might be a revelation to society in general, and Kashmir in particular.
      Why don’t u dig out all that happened along the Karakoram Highway in the May of the year 1988.?
      People from Gilgit and Baltistan may afford great furtherance and ample facilitation.
      Let me just say that what transpired would not make fir easy listening or recounting or even coming to terms with for it finds parallel not in reality, less so in fiction.

  19. Zahra jee mere Ek dost ko terrorist ne shadi ke kuch hii dino baad Goli Mar ke Mar dala.wife pregnant thee bacha peda hwa but papa ki shakal nahi dekhi Aise boht se logon ko terrorist ne Mar dala unke bare m bhi kuch Likho to maan jao apko

  20. I just went through her Twitter feed. Saw multiple comments describing J&K as “Indian Occupied Kashmir” and referring to terrorists as “militants” and “martyrs”…what do you expect will happen?

    Opposing the govt is legitimate, opposing the country from within isn’t.

    It’s people like these who will keep the wounds festering and never allow peace to return to the state.

  21. She was sharing photos and videos without substantial evidence of the people allegedly killed by army what proof does police need to give, did she give any evidence of her claims in her reports. She is the jehadi we should we looking for. Who encourage people to violence,why else would she cover such case of doubtful allegations.

    • Let the govt take strict action against every such person who by her / his act directly or indirectly with I’ll motive dose any act which she knows very well that this is against the law of the land, peace harmony and integrity of nation is at risk.

      The earlier govts were reluctant to take strict actions against such persons, who kept their political intrest above the intrest of the nation and always played their dirty games by compromising in all aspects,of which today we are suffuring

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