By AIJAZ HUSSAIN and SHEIKH SAALIQ
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — India’s premier investigating company on Wednesday mentioned it raided almost a dozen places in Indian-controlled Kashmir, together with the places of work and residences of a journalist and two outstanding activists, triggering considerations amongst media watchdogs and rights advocates who see it as a crackdown on info and a free press within the disputed area.
The Nationwide Investigation Company mentioned in an announcement it searched the premises of Agence France-Presse’s Kashmir correspondent Parvaiz Bukhari, places of work of rights activist Khurram Parvez and Parveena Ahanger, and the area’s main every day Higher Kashmir, together with a non-profit group, and seized “a number of incriminating paperwork and digital gadgets.”
The company mentioned it was investigating “non-profit teams and charitable trusts” that have been accumulating funds and utilizing them for “finishing up secessionist and separatist actions” within the disputed area.
A police official aware about the raids mentioned the investigators confiscated telephones, laptops and storage gadgets from journalist Bukhari and rights defender Parvez. The official spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly.
Parvez’s group, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society has written scathing studies about brutality involving a number of the tons of of 1000’s of Indian troops within the area. It has highlighted the expansive powers granted to them which it says led to a tradition of impunity and widespread rights abuse within the area.
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti mentioned the raids on activist Parvez and the Higher Kashmir workplace have been “one other instance of the Authorities of India’s vicious crackdown on freedom of expression and dissent.”
The raids got here days after Indian authorities sealed the workplace of an English every day, Kashmir Instances, inflicting outrage from journalists and condemnation from world media watchdogs. Authorities mentioned the workplace was sealed resulting from administrative causes however journalists mentioned the transfer aimed to throttle the free press.
Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan, and each declare the area in its entirety. Most Kashmiris assist the insurgent aim of uniting the territory, both beneath Pakistani rule or as an impartial nation.
Earlier on Tuesday, India enacted new legal guidelines that permit any of its nationals to purchase land within the disputed area, a transfer that exacerbates concerns of residents and rights teams who see such measures as a settler-colonial undertaking to vary the Muslim-majority area’s demography.
Till final yr, Indians weren’t allowed to purchase property within the area. However in August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities scrapped the disputed area’s particular standing, annulled its separate structure, break up the area into two federal territories — Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir, and eliminated inherited protections on land and jobs. The transfer triggered widespread anger and financial spoil amid a harsh safety clampdown and communications blackout.
Tuesday’s legal guidelines, a part of a collection of Modi’s hard-line Hindu-nationalist insurance policies, additionally authorize the Indian military to declare any space as “strategic” for operational and coaching functions in opposition to the Kashmiri rebels.
On Wednesday, the area’s important pro-freedom conglomerate denounced the brand new legal guidelines and known as for a strike on Oct. 31. Professional-India politicians from the area accused India of placing Kashmir’s land “up on the market.”
The federal authorities mentioned the choice was made to encourage growth and peace within the area.
Since August 2019, the Indian authorities has imposed overarching restrictions within the area which critics say has eroded press freedom.
A number of journalists have been arrested, overwhelmed, harassed and typically even investigated beneath anti-terror legal guidelines. A controversial new media regulation gave the federal government extra energy to censure impartial reporting.
The Kashmir Editors Guild in an announcement Wednesday mentioned it was involved over the “mounting prices of being a journalist in Kashmir” and hoped the area’s media is “permitted to operate with out hassles and hurdles.”
Reporters With out Borders, a worldwide media watchdog, in August mentioned “press freedom violations by the Indian authorities in Kashmir is unworthy of a democracy.”
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