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Stop intimidation of journalists in J&K: AI tells GoI

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Srinagar: While taking a note of reports about cases being registered against two Kashmir based journalists, Amnesty International has asked government of India to stop intimidation of journalists in J&K.

In a statement issued today, Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India said, “The two new First Information Reports (FIR) against journalists in Kashmir that initiate investigations against them by the police signal the authorities’ attempt to curb the right to freedom of expression. Harassment and intimidation of journalists through draconian laws such as UAPA threatens the efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and creates an atmosphere of fear and reprisal. This severely undermines the human rights guarantees of the people of Kashmir and denies the people in India and around the world’s right to know.”

Jammu and Kashmir police have invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against photojournalist Masrat Zehra and also initiated investigation against journalist Peerzada Ashiq for allegedly spreading ‘misinformation’,

“Under international human rights law, any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression must be demonstrably necessary and proportionate. The media plays a crucial role in reporting human rights abuses and is essential to inform the public about the factual situation and measures taken by the governments in response to COVID-19. Yet time and again, UAPA, India’s principal counter-terrorism law, has been abused to target journalists and human right defenders who criticise government policies,” said Avinash Kumar.

He said that 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.

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