Outrage as Kashmiri Journalist Majid Hyderi Booked Under PSA
Image Courtesy: Twitter
Srinagar: The authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have booked journalist and political commentator Majid Hyderi under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), days after he was arrested by the police on charges of "criminal conspiracy" and "extortion".
He has since been shifted to Jammu's Kot Balwal Jail, about 250 km from Srinagar. Hyderi was arrested from his Peerbagh residence in the summer capital last week, following which the police said he was detained in the case FIR no 88/2023 under Sections 120-B, 177, 386 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The fresh action against the journalist has been widely condemned by locals, including the political leadership, with many terming it as "deeply disturbing".
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on social media platform X that the action against Hyderi reflects the intolerance of the current administration against any form of dissent in the region.
"Reports of Majid Hyderi's detention under PSA are deeply disturbing. If correct, this is yet another instance of the current J&K administration proving how intolerant they are to any criticism," the National Conference leader said.
Abdullah argued that Hyderi cannot be seen as a "threat" to public safety even if he does threaten a few reputations. "If he has said something someone else doesn't like, then take recourse to the available defamation laws," he added.
Hyderi was slapped with the PSA after getting bail in the first case. He is the fourth journalist from Kashmir to have been booked under the controversial law in the past few years, a trend that the rights bodies and media watchdogs have termed "worrying".
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami, while condemning the use of PSA against the journalist, slammed the authorities for using force against media professionals in the region.
"Majid Hyderi is a recent addition to the list of journalists booked under PSA. It's unfortunate that speaking truth to power or having the temerity to call a spade a spade has become a crime. The government is employing all strong-arm methods to brow-beat journalists into submission," he said in a statement.
A lawyer and commentator, Irfan Hafiz Lone, who has been part of several debates on news broadcasts with Hyderi, condemned the action against the journalist, calling it a "brazen disregard" of constitutional provisions.
"Freedom of speech and expression is sole of the Constitution. The false implication of Majid Hyderi, a professional Journalist, is an attempt to muzzle free speech and silence brave journalists. He continues to be in jail despite being admitted on bail by the competent Court," Lone wrote on X.
Media rights groups have raised concerns about the challenges journalists face in Kashmir, especially in the aftermath of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019. Since then, many have been summoned, their residences raided and electronic gadgets seized by law enforcement agencies. Others have been booked under stringent laws like the PSA and UAPA.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.