The National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court has granted bail to Kamran Yousuf, a freelance photojournalist, who was arrested last year for alleged stone-pelting and other offences in Kashmir related to terror funding.
According to the NIA, Yousuf was allegedly involved in stone-pelting incidents besides organising groups of youths who would throw stones at security personnel involved in counter insurgency operations. Yousuf , who had often been warned by the local police, was allegedly mobilising the youth and clicking their pictures for circulation in local and national newspapers.
Additional sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat, however, dismissed the NIA’s claim on Monday, and said the agency has failed to provide a “single photo/video” as evidence to show the accused was “indulging in stone pelting activities at any site”, reported The Indian Express
The court also said the NIA could not produce any direct link between Yousuf and others chargesheeted in the case, the report added.
Yousuf and 11 others were chargesheeted and booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Dismissing the NIA’s claim, ASJ Sherawat said: “Admittedly, Kamran Yousuf was working as a photojournalist and he was covering all kinds of incidents…as such, his presence on sites of stone pelting incidents etc is intrinsic, notwithstanding the fact/contention (that) he was not a permanent employee of any media organisation.”
He added: “…the applicant has never been in touch with the other accused in this case and even if, as per the prosecution case, he was in touch/contact with other suspects, it is not explained why the prosecution did not make them accused in this case, or why they did not investigate on their involvement.”
The court also observed that Yousuf was not found involved in any such offences/terrorist activities in the past. “Besides there is no such allegation that the accused was arrested soon after the occurrence…”
"Had he been a real journalist by profession, he may have performed one of the moral duties of a journalist which is to cover the activities (good or bad) in his jurisdiction. He never covered any development activity, inauguration of a hospital, school building, road, bridge, statement of political parties or the government of India", the NIA had said in its charge sheet filed against him on January 19 this year.
On January 11, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti requested Union home minister Rajnath Singh to look into the case of Yousuf .
"Spoke to Home Minister @rajnathsingh ji to look into Kamran Yousuf's case. I've requested him to intervene so that the life of a young budding journalist does not get ruined," Mehbooba had tweeted.
(With agency inputs)