Police Invoke UAPA Against Kashmiri Woman Journalist for Sharing Work on Social Media

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Masrat Zahra- Photo Credit- Twitter

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Police in Kashmir have filed a case against a woman photo-journalist on Saturday on trumped up charges of “glorifying anti-national activities” on social media.

A police station set up in Srinagar a few months back for cyber-crimes issued a press release announcing that they have registered a case against Masrat Zahra for “criminal intention of inducing the youth and to promote offences against public tranquility”.

The police said Zahra was uploading photographs that could “provoke the public to disturb law and order”. They confessed to have invoked a section 13 of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The law which was amended last year to allow the authorities to declare Individuals as terrorists.

Few days Zahra had shared pictures on her social media accounts from a story she had reported for The New Humanitarian.

The case comes at a time when journalists in Kashmir have been complaining of intimidation by state agencies “for doing their work”.

The police action against Zahra has triggered a sharp reaction from Kashmir’s journalist fraternity who said they were shocked to see police FIR against a journalist for sharing her work.

Journalists and activists have launched an online solidarity campaign to show their support with their colleague. They are appealing the police to revoke the case filed against Zahra.

Kashmir Press Club, a body of media professionals in Kashmir, expressed solidarity with Zahra and said  “cases against journalists for their stories and work are unwarranted and outrightly illegal and draconian”.

 

The club demanded that the charges against Zahra be dropped. “The police need to understand there is a vast difference between journalism and cyber crime,” the statement said.

She was summoned to Cyber Police Station on April 18, 2020. However after the Kashmir Press Club and Directorate of Information intervened at the highest level, the police dropped the summon, the statement added.

Masrat Zahra, who is being hailed for her hard work and professionalism, is one of the finest photojournalists in Kashmir whose work appeared in Washington Post, Al-Jazeera TRT World, Caravan Magazine, The New Humanitarian.  mostly covers the impact of political violence on women in Kashmir.

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