December 4, 2016 4:39:01 am
The Jammu & Kashmir Police has registered a case against a journalist of banned newspaper Kashmir Reader for a September 28 report on crop-burning, in which villagers were quoted as blaming “government forces” for the alleged arson.
A case under Section 505, pertaining to publication or circulation of “statements of conducing public mischief”, has been registered against Ishfaq Reshi, who was a trainee reporter with Kashmir Reader, which was banned by the J&K government on October 2.
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Reshi is a student of convergent journalism at Central University of Kashmir and has been associated with the paper since April 2016.
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Reshi was presented before a Munsif court in Magam on Friday and directed to apply for bail from the sessions court in Budgam. “I was in police detention during the day (on Friday) and allowed to go home in the evening,” Reshi said. “There were allegations from villagers. I had gone on the ground to verify the facts and reported the same.”
The report had appeared in the newspaper as a front-page banner, along with three photographs, and quoted residents of Budran, Aadina, Kanihama and Mazhama villages in Budgam district as saying that “police, paramilitary troopers and soldiers (had) fired incendiary projectiles into the harvested rice crop that had been left to dry in sun”.
In a statement on September 30 rebutting the story, the J&K Police Media Centre had said “the incident has been maliciously linked with forces”. “Some anti-social elements set on fire two haycocks at village Adina, Magam. On the receipt of the complaint, police took cognizance and lodged an FIR no. 159/16 in police station Magam and investigation has been taken up.”
The Sub-divisional Police Officer, Magam, Syed Fayaz Ahmad told The Sunday Express that Reshi had circulated a “fake news” regarding the incident. “It was a normal case of burning for which he had blamed the forces. We produced him before the Munsif court on Friday. He was not under arrest,” SDPO Ahmad said.
Questioning the case against Reshi, Mir Hilal, Editor of Kashmir Reader, said, “The story in question is similar to what others reported. If there are similar stories in other publications too that were also rebutted by police, why is there an FIR only against this story? They did not send any rebuttal to us and the statement issued two days later did not specifically mention our paper.”
Two days after the police statement, Kashmir Reader had been banned by the state government. Srinagar District Magistrate Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone had asked the English daily to stop its publication forthwith till further orders “so that disturbance of public tranquility is prevented”.
The paper continues to remain banned.
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