India: two media reporters chargedEvent
- Initial Date
- Jan 30, 2021
- Event Description
On January 30, police in the state opened criminal investigations into Sharma, a reporter at The Kashmirwalla news website, and Junaid, a reporter at The Kashmiriyat news website, for alleged incitement, according to various news reports and Fahad Shah, editor-in-chief of The Kashmirwalla, and Qazi Shibli, news editor of The Kashmiriyat, both of whom spoke to CPJ in phone interviews.
The investigation into Sharma and Junaid concerns reports they published on January 27 in The Kashmirwalla and The Kashmiriyat, which each quoted the chairperson of a school in the southern Kashmiri city of Shopian, who said Indian Army authorities had pressured the school to celebrate Republic Day, according to Shah and Shibli. After those articles were published, the school issued a statement denying that it had received pressure from authorities, according to the news website Scroll.in. Shah told CPJ that The Kashmirwalla outlet stands by its story.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed to police by an unnamed army official, who accused Sharma and Junaid of spreading “fake news,” which poses “serious concerns for security of [the] region as they can cause riots & create problems for law & order situation for public & armed forces,” according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by CPJ and Scroll.in.
The complaint accuses the journalists of violating Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint also accuses The Kashmirwalla and The Kashmiriyat, as corporate entities, of the same offenses.
Both Shah and Shibli told CPJ that their reporters were not given copies of the complaint, and they found out about the police investigation through social media. If charged and convicted, Sharma and Junaid could face up to three years in prison under Indian law.
On February 2, a court rejected Shah and Sharma’s petition for pre-emptive bail, which would exempt the journalists from detention during the investigation, and both are now petitioning Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Shah told CPJ.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 30 January 2021, Yashraj Sharma and Mir Junaid, media workers, were charged and investigated by the police for incitement after reporting the local authorities undue pressure on a school in Jammu and Kashmir, India.