Altaf Hamid Rao;

Lambastes New Delhi for booking two IOJK leading journalists under draconian laws:

MIRPUR (Parliament Times): Jammu and Kashmir Union of Journalists here on Tuesday vehemently condemned the registration of cases against two noted Kashmiri journalists of Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir including Peerzada Ashiq and female photojournalist Masarrat Zahra by the occupational Indian authorities under serious charges. In a joint statement of condemnation issued here on Tuesday, President Jammu Kashmir Union of Journalists Hafiz Maqsoo, the organizations’ founder leader Altaf Hamid Rao and Central Vice President Sohrab Ahmed Khan termed it a cowardly act on the part of the Delhi’s installed puppet administration of the IOJK to gag the true voices of Kashmir through such coercive tactics also against global moral norms and commitments.

The Jammu Kashmir journalists fraternity leaders warned the suppressive Indian authorities and their stooges in Indian occupied Kshmir that such mean and cowardly acts to suppress the freedom of expression in the bleeding vale of Kashmir could not sustain for a long time and the media would continue raising the voice of Kashmiris till their just and principled struggle for securing their right of liberation of the motherland from forced and unlawful Indian rule reaches to its logical end. The two veteran IOJK journalists including Masarrat Zahra and Peerzada Ashiq, who have worked with reputed organizations in India and abroad, were booked for uploading some Kashmir-related photographs and covering the viewpoint of the Kashmiri martyrs’ families. Politicians, analysts, local and international media outlets and journalist bodies while responding to the registration of the cases said, the move has proved that the freedom of media is under serious threat in occupied Kashmir. They said the journalists’ crime is that they are portraying true picture of Indian tyranny in the occupied territory. Occupied Srinagar–based Journalist Gowhar Geelani said that invoking stringent provisions of a draconian law speaks volumes about the gags on media to silence journalists in Kashmir.

And according to reports reaching here Tuesday from across the line of control, the elderly Kashmiri Hurriat leader and APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Gilani, in a statement in Srinagar Tuesday denounced the booking of the journalists pointed out that they were being harassed for doing their professional work in occupied Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference Chairman, Shabbir Ahmed Dar, in a statement issued in Srinagar said, the filing of the cases is against the international laws, which provide complete freedom to media. People’s Democratic Party demanded immediate withdrawal of FIRs against the two Kashmiri journalists.

The JKUJ President Hafiz Maqsood (a former native of Rajouri district of occupied Kashmir) said in the condemnation statement that the challenges and hardships had multiplied for Kashmiri journalists in IOJK since the bleak day of August 05 last year when Delhi’s hardliner rulers stabbed international norms and commitments abrogated the special status of the internationally-acknowledged disputed Jammu Kashmir state by forcibly scrapping article 370 and 35-A of the constitution at gun-point landing over a million of the Indian armed troops in the disputed held state. According to the reports other prominent international media organizations including, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, in their separate statements also called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of charges against journalists Masarrat Zahra and Peerzada Ashiq. The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the authorities to allow the journalists report freely on events in the territory without facing harassment and intimidation. Reporters Without Borders demanded that outrageous charges against the Kashmiri journalists be immediately dropped. Another report reaching here tonight from across the LoC said that the Acting Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League, Farooq Ahmed Tawheedi, in a statement in Srinagar strongly denounced the occupational Indian forces for not handing over the bodies of the martyred youth to their families for proper burial. The Jammu and Kashmir Youth Social Forum expressed serious concern over the miserable plight of Kashmiri detainees in various interrogation centers and jails in occupied Jammu Kashmir as well as in Indian jails including in infamous New Delhi’s Tihar jail.