Five Kashmir-based journalists have resigned from their position after the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), in its latest blog post, threatened them by calling them “traitors” and accused them of being informers of security forces.
According to an article from The Telegraph, the threats were issued from a blog post named The Resistance Front (TRF) to 21 owners, editors and reporters of mainly three Srinagar-based organisations — the newspapers Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir and the portal and social media TV channel Asian News Network.
Three – Ishtiyaq Joo, Jahangir Sofi and Shaharyar Bukhari – of the five who resigned worked for Rising Kashmir. Sofi pasted a screenshot of his resignation letter on Twitter.
A young journalist whose beats cover mostly civic issues was also named in the LeT list. He resigned soon after. Speaking to NDTV, the journalist said, “I have been reporting about civic issues, water, drains, and transport,” he said. “I have never reported anything on the army or covered any army function so far. Yet they have branded me as an Army informer.”
Srinagar police booked a case and have started investigations. Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Protection Act (UAPA) along with Sections 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 124A (Sedition) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code have been invoked.
Tweeting on its official Twitter page, the Srinagar police said, “Case registered against handlers, active terrorists & OGWs of terror outfit LeT & its offshoot TRF for online publication & dissemination of a direct threat letter to Journalists & reporters based in Kashmir. FIR No. 82/2022 U/S 13 UAPA, 505, 153B, 124A & 506 IPC in shergari PS.”
According to an investigating officer, the Srinagar police have zeroed in on a few suspects. “The contents of the threats depict the intention of terrorists and anti-national elements. They have put the lives of people, especially media persons, in danger by publicly calling them corrupt and giving a direct threat. We have rounded up suspects for being over-ground workers (OGWs) of TRF. The detentions are not exactly linked to threats against media houses,” the officer said.
On August 5, 2020, the Union Government suspended all kinds of internet facilities in Jammu and Kashmir. Since then the people in the Valley have been living without proper information on the country’s latest developments.
Although the news of the journalists’ resignations is still oblivious to the people of J&K, screenshots of the post are being shared widely on social media platforms across the country.
Reacting to the latest threats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader RS Pathania said such acts are unacceptable. “Terrorists have touched new lows, which is against people and against the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression,” he said.