Kashmir-based author and journalist Gowhar Geelani on Friday the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and sought to quash the FIR filed against him by the police under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Cyber Police Station in Kashmir Zone on Tuesday registered a case and started investigation into allegations that journalist Geelani was indulging in unlawful activities through social media posts. A case was registered against him under UAPA, 1967 and Section 505 IPC.
In his plea, Geelani has described the FIR against him as “vindictive calibrated to wreck vengeance.”
Gowhar’s lawyer Sauleh Pirzada said says the respondent has no jurisdiction to investigate the offences beyond the purview of Information Technology Act, 2000.
“The action of the respondent is aimed to deter the petitioner from exercising the professional obligations in accordance with freedom of expression granted under the Constitution of India. A severe prejudice and miscarriage of justice is likely to be caused in case the investigation is allowed to sustain, as there is an impending threat of arrest and harassment on account of police atrocities,” the petition says.
“Any restraint on the freedom of press constitutes violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Press is one of the organs through which thoughts and ideas are expressed and discussed. The Freedom of Press is a necessary concomitant of freedom of expression which involves right to receive and impart information,” it further reads.
Already, media fraternity in the Valley have described FIRs against journalists “thought policing and intimidation.”
“Journalists in Kashmir have always worked under perilous conditions, holding up values of press freedom in the face of dangers to life and liberty. In the last three days, police have filed FIRs against three journalists, in a spree that seems to be aimed at throttling their voice with a new zeal,” Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) has said.
Police on Saturday booked 26-year-old Masrat Zahra, photojournalist based in Kashmir, under the UAPA. The law allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and empowers the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. Masrat's work, as a freelance photojournalist has appeared previously in Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, Quint, and The Caravan Magazine among others.
On Sunday, police verbally summoned a senior journalist, Peerzada Ashiq, of The Hindu and asked him to explain the alleged factual inaccuracies in a story that was published the same day. The police said Ashiq was questioned “in a case of an FIR of instigating people for violence, that has been registered over an encounter in Shopian.”