Srinagar: After the Jammu and Kashmir Police filed an FIR against Gowhar Geelani on Tuesday, the Kashmir-based journalist has termed the charges against him as "frivolous, concocted and filled with ulterior motive to silence journalists" in the region.
Speaking to NewsClick, Geelani who recently authored the book, Kashmir-Rage & Reason, said the charges leveled against him are aimed to "stop them from writing about the ground reality of Kashmir."
The police in a statement said that Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone has received information through reliable sources that Geelani has been indulging in "unlawful activities" through his posts and writings on social media platforms which are "prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India."
“The unlawful activities include glorifying terrorism in Kashmir Valley, causing disaffection against the country and causing fear or alarm in the minds of public that may lead to commission of offenses against public tranquility and the security of State,” the police said.
Responding to this, Geelani told NewsClick, "The statement is vague and talks about my writings on social media with no specifics."
Geelani is the third journalist from the region to have been booked by the police in the last two days. Earlier, police had registered cases against photo journalist Masrat Zahra and a report in The Hindu written by its Kashmir correspondent, Peerzada Ashiq.
While Zahra was booked under controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on Saturday for publishing what the authorities termed as “anti-national” posts on social media, Ahsiq was called in for questioning by two different police stations next day in connection with a story reported by him on the Shopian encounter last week.
The police and civil administration in the UT has been drawing massive flak for the charges levelled against the journalists, many calling it a crackdown on media and freedom of expression.
In their statement, the Kashmir Press Club, of which Geelani is an executive member, condemned the FIRs and demanded them to be canceled.
"As a journalist, it is my job to write, to tell stories, and to analyse and interpret different situations and events on the ground. I have been telling all kinds of stories from Srinagar to Berlin, from New Delhi to London. A journalist can’t make all sides happy. Someone always finds something unpalatable," Geelani said.
Referring to them as "intimidating tactics" Geelani added, "I will continue doing my job with sound professional judgment."
Rights’ bodies have also condemned the charges against journalists in the region and invoking of UAPA against Zahra.
“Access to information is essential in fighting the unprecedented pandemic we are facing. The Government of India must not muzzle the press. It must immediately release and drop all charges against journalists Masrat Zehra, Peerzada Ashiq and others who remain incarcerated solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and refrain from abusing its power in this time of crisis,” rights body Amnesty said.
Also read: J&K Police Invoke UAPA Against Photojournalist, Draw Flak