J&K-based journalists on ‘Pakistan’s payroll’ to be tried for sedition

NewsJ&K-based journalists on ‘Pakistan’s payroll’ to be tried for sedition

‘Two arrested journalists had been spreading the anti-India narrative by exploiting digital platforms’.

NEW DELHI: The Jammu-based special court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) framed charges on Thursday against two Jammu and Kashmir based journalists who have been accused of using the media to propagate “anti-India narrative” while allegedly taking money from what security agencies have described “hostile foreign agencies and proscribed terrorist organisations”.
The court allowed the charges to be framed after getting convinced of the investigation report that it was presented with by the investigative agencies. The two accused in the case—Peerzada Fahad Shah, the Editor-in-Chief cum Director of “The Kashmir Walla”, and Aala Fazili, who wrote an article titled, “The Shackles of Slavery Will Break”—were informed by the court on Thursday of the allegations that the state will try to prove against them.
Fazili, 40, who is a PhD scholar in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Kashmir University, was arrested in April last year for writing the article that was published in November 2011 in the ‘Kashmir Walla”. Shah, 34, was first arrested in February 2022 for an article on a police encounter. After the court granted him bail, he was immediately arrested again on the basis of a separate FIR and then booked under the Public Safety Act in March.
The two are in the custody of State Investigation Agency (SIA), which was constituted in November 2021 as a specialised, nodal agency for “coordinating with NIA and other central agencies”.
While “The Kashmir Walla” is now an online portal, it had started out as a weekly newspaper. As per its website, Shah founded “The Kashmir Walla” in 2009. Apart from running the newsite, Shah has also written for other publications like the Time, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic. According to the news-site, he is also a correspondent for the US-based Christian Science Monitor.
The Sunday Guardian’s repeated calls and messages to one of the present employees of “The Kashmir Walla”, seeking the organization’s response on the matter, elicited no response till the time the story went to press. As per the SIA’s claim, the two while actively conspiring with Pakistan based groups, including state agencies, resurrected a platform reviving the narrative in support of the terrorist and separatist ecosystem. “The duo had been spreading the anti-India narrative by exploiting the digital platforms under a concealed and camouflaged set-up, with the help of illicit funding received from hostile foreign agencies and proscribed terrorist organisations,” the SIA has claimed. The SIA, in its investigation, claims to have established that the two accused were in touch with terror groups based in Pakistan and were in regular contact with Kashmir based terrorists. “Through their publications, the duo have brazenly advocated terrorism and glorified the terrorists with the sole intention to radicalize the youth of the J&K and to entice and incite them in joining secessionist and terrorist organisations,” the SIA told the court.
Aala Fazili has been booked under Section 13 (unlawful activity), 18 (conspiracy, advocating, abetting, inciting, facilitating a terrorist act or any preparation to commit a terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019), Section 121 (abetting waging of war against government of India), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the India Penal Code.
Peerzada Fahad Shah, too, will face charges under the same Sections apart from Section 35 (accepting foreign contribution in contravention of provisions of FCRA, or any order or rule therein), Section 39 (violation of FCRA by a company tantamount to contravention by the persons incharge or responsible for business of such company) of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010.
In his article, Fazili had praised the “resistance” that was happening in Kashmir, which during 2011 was witnessing one of its most turbulent times with multiple secessionist groups virtually running the state. “There is no need to be in anxiety and despair about the success of our freedom struggle. I have this total and farthest belief; we will finally achieve freedom. Success, my dear friends, is not an event, it is a process–it is a path, which we need to tread on so that we reach our destination–freedom. Alhamdulillah, the unflinching resistance of our young protesters and nation as a whole, has set the movement into an irreversible motion on the path of success.”
“The resistance in the last three years has been the most important phase so far in our freedom struggle. We may not have succeeded in chasing India out yet, but certainly we have succeeded in shaking their hold over Kashmir and creating ripples within their establishments–we have succeeded in tearing their mask of non-violence and democracy–we have exposed their demonic criminal conduct before their conscientious people–they stand demoralized–their confidence is shaken–their rhetoric of arrogance is changing–their claim of integral part has no takers anymore.”
“The mass uprisings in the recent past have pushed the discourse out of ambiguities and made our political discourse clear and direct. It has dispelled the Indian propaganda unleashed primarily to confuse the public opinion within and outside Jammu and Kashmir,” Fazili wrote in this article.
“In the last sixty-three-years, India has invested into terrorizing, corrupting, co-opting, and exhausting our people. Also, internationally, India has tried to malign our movement by categorizing it as terrorism. All their investments seem to be going to waste, Alhamdulillah. This is the direct outcome of our valiant struggle, resilience and sacrifices. We have given befitting responses to Indian political machinations and tyranny. This is a source of contentment and let us feel encouraged to carry on the march for freedom with hope. Time to celebrate will follow,” he wrote.

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