Editors Guild slams J&K enforcement agencies' action against journalists Masrat Zahra, Peerzada Ashiq, demands withdrawal of charges

The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday expressed concern over the 'high-handed manner' in which the law enforcement agencies in Jammu and Kashmir used prevailing laws aganst The Hindu journalist Peerzada Ashiq and freelance photographer Mazrat Zahra

Press Trust of India April 21, 2020 22:58:14 IST
Editors Guild slams J&K enforcement agencies' action against journalists Masrat Zahra, Peerzada Ashiq, demands withdrawal of charges

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday expressed concern over the "high-handed manner" in which the law enforcement agencies in Jammu and Kashmir used prevailing laws to deal with two Srinagar-based journalists and demanded that the charges against them be withdrawn.

In a statement, the Guild also said it believes that this is an indirect way of intimidating journalists in the rest of the country as well.

It noted that while only an FIR has been filed in connection with a report filed by Peerzada Ashiq, a reporter working for The Hindu, the authorities in the Union Territory have used the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Masrat Zahra, a young freelance photographer.

Editors Guild slams JK enforcement agencies action against journalists Masrat Zahra Peerzada Ashiq demands withdrawal of charges

File image of Masrat Zahra. Image courtesy: Facebook@Masrat Zahra

"Any recourse to such laws for merely publishing something in the mainstream or social media is a gross misuse of power. Its only purpose can be to strike terror into journalists," the Guild said.

The editors body said it has noted with shock and concern, the "high-handed manner" in which the law enforcement agencies in Jammu and Kashmir have used the prevailing laws to deal with the two Srinagar-based journalists.

"The journalists should be put to no harm or further harassment. If the government has any grievance against their reporting, there are other ways of dealing with such issues in the normal course," the Guild said.

Mere social media posts of factual pictures can't attract the toughest anti-terror laws passed for hardened terrorists, it said.

In the case of The Hindu reporter, the correct course was to escalate the complaint to the newspaper's editor, the Guild said.

It demanded that the Union Territory administration of Jammu and Kashmir withdraw the charges forthwith.

Zahra, who was booked for uploading "anti-national" posts, was questioned by police on Tuesday in connection with the case filed against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

While she was booked for a Facebook post about slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Ashiq was booked for a story about the recent Shopian encounter in which two militants were killed.

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