February 29, 2024

Moon Desk: Narendra Modi-led Hindutva government of India continues use of strong-arm tactics to muzzle the press in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) with noted Kashmiri journalist Irfan Meraj’s arrest having become the latest example of this harsh policy.

According to Kashmir Media Service, as part of its systematic crackdown on journalists, India’s notorious the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested renowned journalist Irfan Meraj in Srinagar on 20 March 2023. The NIA in a tweet said the arrest took place due to Meraj’s collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organization headed by jailed Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvaiz.

Even the detention of Irfan Meraj under terror charges was termed as a travesty by the London-based Amnesty International, which also said, “The arrest is yet another instance of the long-drawn repression of human rights and the crackdown on media freedoms and civil society in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The stifling of the rights to freedom of expression & association continues unabated in Kashmir.”

Political experts and analysts in their interviews and statements said that Irfan Meraj was arrested for writing about issues of human rights violations in IIOJK including fake encounter killings, attacks on Kashmiri civilians and the deteriorating situation in the territory after abrogation of Article 370.

They maintained that Irfan Meraj was one of the many journalists arrested by Indian authorities from Kashmir during past one year for speaking the truth, adding a number of journalists from IIOJK, including Asif Sultan, Sajad Gul and Fahad Shah, are already facing illegal detentions for their press work.

They pointed out that though journalists in IIOJK had been victims of state oppression for a long time yet their victimization increased manifold since India illegally and unilaterally revoked the occupied territory’s special status on August 5, 2019. They said journalists face killings, murder attempts, arrests, regular threats and harassment, constant surveillance and criminal cases under terror laws in the occupied territory.

The political experts and analysts noted that journalists continue to work in most trying conditions in IIOJK and that a number of journalists have been killed and scores injured since 1989 in the territory.

Stating that fascist Modi regime cannot hide its crimes by curbing the press in IIOJK, they said that assault on journalists in IIOJK was a wakeup call for global media organizations and urged them to come forward and rescue independent journalism in the occupied territory.




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