Pakistan calls on world to hold India accountable for Kashmir journalist arrests

Journalists in occupied Kashmir have increasingly voiced concerns about harassment and threats by the police.


In this file photo, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan/File

January 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan on Sunday condemned increasing harassment, illegal arrests and registration of “fake criminal cases” against journalists and civil society activists in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK) and called upon the international community to hold New Delhi accountable for its actions.

The Foreign Office, in a statement, called out the reported attack on the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) on Saturday, saying it “manifestly reflects India’s entrenched use of brute force and coercion to forcibly silence those raising voices against its horrendous crimes and egregious human rights violations in IIOJK”.

According to a report in The Print, “unfamiliar” activities were seen at the KPC on Saturday when a few journalists accompanied by policemen reached there and claimed to be the club’s “new management”.

The policemen claimed to be personal security officers of one of the journalists who released a statement to the media stating that “some journalist forums” had chosen them to be the new office-bearers.

Also read: Indian police clamp curbs on media coverage of gun battles in occupied Kashmir

The claims of the interim body were disputed soon by a statement issued by around nine journalist bodies in IOK who denounced the forcible takeover of the KPC office with “open support from the administration” and termed it “a wrong and dangerous precedent”.

In its statement, the FO said the increasing use of draconian and inhumane laws including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Public Safety Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act with impunity in IOK reflected India’s “colonial mindset”.

“India’s state-sponsored terrorism can never weaken the resolve of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination,” it added.

It called upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and international human rights and humanitarian bodies, to hold India accountable for its “unabated harassment and illegal arrests” of journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society activists in IOK.

Journalists in occupied Kashmir have increasingly voiced concerns about harassment and threats by the police that have effectively restricted reporting after India revoked the region’s semi-autonomy and divided it into two federally governed territories in 2019.

Many journalists have been arrested, beaten, harassed and sometimes investigated under anti-terrorism laws.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had last week asked Indian authorities to immediately release a journalist in IOK, days after police arrested him for uploading a video clip of a protest against Indian occupation.

The media watchdog said it was deeply disturbed by the arrest of Sajad Gul, an independent journalist and media student.

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