Masrat Zahra, a Kashmiri female photojournalist has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in an FIR registered on Monday.
“Cyber police received information through reliable sources that one Facebook user namely Masrat Zahra is uploading anti-national posts with criminal intention to induce the youth and to promote offenses against public tranquillity,” read a statement from Cyber police station, Kashmir Zone.
Masrat is a photojournalist of international repute, with work published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, TRT World among many others.
The case against Masrat has been registered in FIR 10/2020 under section 13 UA(P)Act and 505-IPC.
Social media users, particularly Journalists from the valley have taken to Twitter and condemned this, a hashtag #IStandWithMasratZahra has been started.
“Masrat, a professional photojournalist, has honestly told stories of Kashmir in 4-year career. Invoking UAPA is outrageous. In solidarity with our colleague, we demand FIR withdrawn. Journalism isn’t crime. Intimidation/censorship won’t silence Kashmir’s journalists.” editor of a popular news magazine wrote.
Another journalist from the valley wrote “ Masrat Zahra, a Kashmiri photojournalist, has told stories of strife in valley for years. Notice her working, among her male colleagues, you will feel proud. Police in Kashmir has invoked UAPA against her for posting a picture. This is outrageous.”
Kashmir Press Club, in it’s offical statement condemned the incident too. The statement also condemned the harassment and summoning of Journalists by the Police.
“It is very unfortunate that when the world is in a grip of pandemic and when we need to stand together to combat the Covid-19, police has started filing cases against journalists and harassing them.” the statement read. The Press Club demanded the charges against Masrat Zehra to be dropped, KPC also seeked cooperation of other journalist bodies and organizations in India and abroad. “The Kashmir Press Club also seeks the cooperation and support of Indian and international journalist bodies at a time when the journalism in the region is under constant onslaught. The KPC will also formally write to the Press Council of India and other bodies on these cases which seem to be aimed at pressuring journalists in the valley.” further read the statement.
Many Kashmiri Journalists have been arrested in the past for doing their professional duties. Out of which Aasif Sultan and Qazi Shibi continue to be behind the bars.