Indian police arrest Kashmir journalist for 'glorifying terrorism'

Mr Fahad Shah, the editor of Kashmir Walla news portal, had already been questioned several times for his reporting by officers in recent years. PHOTO: PZFAHAD/TWITTER

SRINAGAR (AFP) - A prominent journalist in Indian-administered Kashmir has been arrested by police and accused of glorifying terrorism and spreading fake news in the disputed territory, where a running press crackdown has intensified.

Mr Fahad Shah, the editor of Kashmir Walla news portal, had already been questioned several times for his reporting by officers in recent years.

He had been arrested for "glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news and inciting general public", Kashmir police said Saturday (Feb 5).

A police statement that followed his arrest the day before added that Mr Shah's Facebook posts had dented "the image of law enforcing agencies".

The Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Mr Shah's release and called on Indian authorities to respect press freedom in Kashmir.

Mr Shah's arrest demonstrated the "authorities' utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely", Mr Steven Butler of the Washington-based watchdog said.

Dozens of journalists in Indian-controlled Kashmir have regularly been summoned by police and questioned on their work since 2019, when New Delhi revoked the territory's partial autonomy and brought it under direct rule.

They have also been increasingly subject to harassment, arrests, raids and prosecution on terrorism-related charges.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since both countries were granted independence from British rule in 1947, and both claim the former Himalayan kingdom in full.

More than half a million Indian soldiers are deployed in the territory, battling a running insurgency from rebel groups demanding independence or Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.

The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

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