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Facebook admin arrested for extortion, criminal intimidation

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Srinagar: After a strong public outcry on extortion and blackmailing by a Facebook admin- Kashmir Crown, police on Saturday arrested its managing editor, Ashiq Mir while confirming that more arrests were on cards in the matter.

Confirming the arrest, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Headquarters, Sajad Bukhari, said that following the registration of an FIR bearing No 177 dated 3-8-2021 Under Section 384,506 against Kashmir Crown and its Managing Editor in connection with a case of extortion and blackmailing, Mir was arrested and more arrests were expected.

He said a case under IPC sections 384 (extortion) and 506 (criminal intimidation) was registered in Baramulla police station against Ashiq Mir after he had allegedly demanded money from a man of Kalaroos Kupwara threatening him to upload a video of his family dispute on social media.

The complainant has demanded Rs 2 lakh at Kashmir Crown Office- a Facebook page run by Imran Ahmad Ganai (aka Shahid Imran) who is also involved in several FIRs for similar charges and bungling of funds collected as donations from people via crowdfunding, sources said.

Speaking about the matter, SSP Baramulla, Rayees Mohammed, said that investigations were underway and one lakh rupees of extortion money was recovered so far from the arrested person.

Meanwhile, Police has registered another case of extortion and criminal intimidation against Kashmir Crown Editor and owner Shahid Imran and its correspondent Ashiq Mir for allegedly extorting Rs 10000 and blackmailing a girl (name withheld) from Chatlora Rafiabad who had approached the social media outlet to expose drug menace.

Acting on the application of the girl, Court of Judicial Magistrate Dangiwahcha ordered Station House Officer, Dangiwacha to lodge an FIR into the matter and act against the accused as per law after which police lodged an FIR bearing No 145/2021 under section 384 and 506 IPC against accused Shahid Imran Ganai son of Ghulam Mohammad Ganai of Rohama Rafiabad and Ashiq Mir.

Pertinent to mention that the Facebook Page Kashmir Crown’s Chief Editor Shahid Imran was exposed by a call recording and screenshots of bank transactions and chat screenshots that were shown as evidence by the victim girl. In the call recording, Shahid Imran was heard giving direction to the girl to transfer the money into the one account named ‘Women Hub’ run by his father.

Sources said that Kashmir Crown opened a ‘Trust’ without any registration and began collecting crowdfunding for some cases that it highlighted through social media.  A huge amount of money was donated by masses for the deserving destitute but the money did not reach the deserving, several locals alleged demanding a thorough investigation in the matter.

Meanwhile, Baramulla Working Journalist Association (BWJA) demanded harsh punishment to the ‘blackmailers’ and said that such acts were a disgrace to the profession of journalism. In an extraordinary meeting presided by the Chairman of the Association, Karamat Qayoom, the members expressed concern over the growing misuse of social media by some ‘fake journalists’.

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