India’s federal National Investigative Agency (NIA) summoned Kashmir Observer daily’s Srinagar-based journalist Aqib Javed Hakim to New Delhi and questioned him on July 14 and 15 over an interview, relating to a sedition case registered against a woman separatist leader.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) in strongly condemning the intimidation and harassment of journalist Hakim, and demand that NIA refrain from misusing its authority to intimidate journalists.
The NIA summoned accredited journalist Hakim to New Delhi, 900km from Srinagar, and after his appearance questioned him about the interviews he had done and types of news stories he had written. He was also asked questions regarding his personal background in connection to a sedition case filed against Asiya Andrabi, a separatist leader who was moved to New Delhi from Srinagar Jail, whom he had interviewed in past for a magazine.
The IJU said that the NIA summons of Aqib Javed Hakim amounted to an attack on the freedom of the press and meant to intimidate journalists in Kashmir who were already working under difficult circumstances.
IJU President SN Sihna said: “The IJU regrets that the Center is using the NIA as a tool to harass the journalists in Kashmir and alienating them from the mainstream. Doing interviews is part of the journalists’ duties and not a national security threat. We request the Home Minister to immediately intervene and stop harassment of the journalists in a volatile state.”
Hakim is not the first Kashmiri journalist to be intimidated by the NIA. Freelance photojournalist Kamran Yousuf was detained without charge by the NIA in September 2017 and was charged on January 18, 2018 as a "stone-pelter" and accused of carrying out "terrorist and secessionist activities" in Kashmir. He was released on bail by a court on March 12, 2018.
The Kashmir Working Journalist Association and the Kashmir Journalist Association have also condemned the summoning of Hakim and warned of protest.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the NIA over its summoning of a journalist from Srinagar to New Delhi, India for an interview. The summoning is clearly an attempt to intimidate the journalist community of Jammu and Kashmir; and a gross misuse of the authority. The IFJ urges the concerned authorities of India to immediately allow Hakim to conduct his professional activities as a journalist and refrain from harassing journalists in future.”
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