Ensure Press Freedom in Kashmir — Noam Chomsky, Ayesha Jalal, Tariq Ali, Hamid Dabashi and Several Prominent Figures Endorse Letter Addressing the UN and Worldwide Organizations with 450+ Signatures by Academics, Journalists, Writers, Researchers
April 24, 2020

Prominent figures from academia and worldwide press along with several researchers and scholars have endorsed a letter and its petition to the UN and several international organizations to demand protection and freedom of press for Kashmiri journalists “charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)” that “can carry jail time of two to ten years” and without bail, for doing their job as journalists reporting from and about Kashmir. The letter covers the last few years of state-sanctioned targeting of Kashmir journalists, particularly since August 5, 2019, when India revoked Articles 370 and 35A while maintaining Kashmir under a media, communications, telephonic and press lockdown that a wide majority of Kashmir observers, scholars and experts have called “a siege.” With only 2G internet and mobile telephony restored recently and the press allowed to operate under constant threat of persecution in Kashmir, a new series of cases have been filed against Kashmiri journalists through the “Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The letter, in addressing these pressing matters, highlights events covered by the media in Kashmir, India and the international press reporting the cases of several journalists booked under the UAPA. The letter and its petition seek international mediation particularly for Masrat Zahra, “a freelance photojournalist, whose work has appeared in various international publications including The Washington Post, The New Humanitarian and elsewhere,” Peerzada Aashiq, “a well known[sic] journalist working for reputed Indian newspaper, The Hindu,” and senior journalist Gowhar Geelani.

The letter also details such “Unlawful Activities” action against and “harassment” of other Kashmiri journalists, specifically summarizing the condition and experiences of the following members of Kashmiri press: Mushtaq Ganaie, Gowhar Wani, Irfan Malik, Muzamil Matto, Azan Javid, Anees Zargar, Hakeem Irfan, Basharat Masood, Naseer Ganie, Haroon Nabi, Qazi Shibli, Asif Sultan and Kamran Yusuf. Such events from just this week have resulted in India dropping two places on the World Press Freedom Index to the 142nd position in a global ranking of 180 nations.

Inverse Journal has embedded this letter directly from its source, Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN), and provided a series of “relevant links” embedded directly from their respective sources covering this series of events, because bibliography and citationality is at the core of this journal's editorial policy.

The Letter

The letter below is embedded here in screen-displayed viewable format from its original source. In case of unforeseen technical issues that do allow the embedded PDF of the letter to be viewable on this page, the said PDF can be access directly from its source here.

Some of the prominent academics, journalists and writers like Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Janine Di Giovanni, Ayesha Jalal, Irfan Ahmad, Hamid Dabashi among several others have endorsed the letter accumulating more than 450 signatures by scholars, journalists, researchers, academics, experts, creatives, officials and members of the Kashmiri, Indian and international press, some of them signing in their individual capacity.

The letter and its petition are addressed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression with a "cc" to PEN International Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Federation of Journalists, International Women’s Media Foundation and Women Photograph.

Inverse Journal has provided additional "relevant links" at the bottom of the page to contextualize the reasons why such a letter has been written in the first place and at this particular time of pandemic distress.

Relevant Links

I'm speechless, says J&K journalist Masrat Zahra after being booked for 'anti-national' posts

New Delhi: A Srinagar-based independent photojournalist has been booked by the Jammu and Kashmir Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly glorifying "anti-national activities" on social media. In a statement issued Monday by the Cyber Police Station (Kashmir Zone), the police accused Masrat Zahra of uploading "anti-national" posts with the criminal intention to induce the youth and promote offences against public tranquility.

The Hindu journalist questioned by J&K police in 2nd FIR against media personnel in Kashmir

Sunday despite a social media campaign against its decision to charge Kashmir-based independent photojournalist Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police Monday filed an FIR in connection with a news story published by Masrat Zahra under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) .

Kashmir journalist Gowhar Geelani booked for social media posts 'glorifying terrorism'

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Cyber Police Tuesday night said it filed a case against a Kashmiri author-journalist Gowhar Geelani for "glorifying terrorism in Kashmir Valley" through social media posts, the second such FIR to be filed against a journalist in four days.

Government Of India Must Immediately Stop Intimidation Of Journalists In J&K - Amnesty International India

Amnesty International India New Delhi / Bengaluru: 21 April 2020 6:42 pm Responding to news that the Jammu and Kashmir police have invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against photojournalist Masrat Zehra and also initiated an investigation against journalist Peerzada Ashiq for allegedly spreading 'misinformation', Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India said: "The two new First Information Reports (FIR) against journalists in Kashmir that initiate investigations against them by the police signal the authorities' attempt to curb the right to freedom of expression.

Jammu and Kashmir police launch investigations into 2 journalists

New Delhi, April 20, 2020 -- Authorities in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir must immediately stop harassing journalists Masrat Zahra and Peerzada Ashiq, and let them report freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

India: Kashmiri photographer unfairly accused of "glorifying anti-national activities" | Reporters without borders

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the flimsy charges brought against Masrat Zahra, a freelance photojournalist who has been ordered to report to the counter-terrorism police tomorrow in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in northern India.

Kashmir's news media faces existential crisis amid restrictions, arrests

On August 5, the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a strict communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir after stripping the state of its limited autonomous status under the Indian constitution. A month later as the restrictions continued, CPJ India Correspondent Kunal Majumder traveled to Srinagar, Kashmir's...

Crackdown amid corona: Kashmir police book photojournalist Masrat Zahra under UAPA to send a message

On 20 April, Masrat Zahra, a 26-year-old photojournalist from Kashmir, woke up to learn that the cyber police had booked her under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A press release by the Cyber Police Station, Kashmir Zone, was doing rounds on social media that morning, which referred to Zahra's Facebook account, stated, "The facebook user is ...

'Brazen attack': Outrage over Kashmir police probing journalists

Pulwama, Indian-administered Kashmir - Media watchdogs and rights groups have called police charges against journalists in Indian-administered Kashmir a "brazen attack" on freedom of expression. "Masrat Zahra, Peerzada Ashiq and Gowhar Geelani should be free to report on events in Jammu and Kashmir without facing harassment and intimidation from local authorities," Aliya Iftikhar, a senior Asia researcher with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.


Imprisoned Kashmiri Journalist Receives International Press Freedom Award in Absentia

On October 17th, the American National Press Club held its annual Fourth Estate Gala in Washington, D.C. where imprisoned Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan was awarded the Foreign Press Freedom Award for his journalistic writing for Kashmiri Narrator, a Kashmir-based magazine.

Amid Communications Blockade, Kashmiri Journalists Report via Alternative Indian and International Media

In the spirit of sharing knowledge, at Inverse Journal we have employed oEmbed technology that allows us to cite and reference news and media items directly from their original source through direct embedding of such content displayed here in a visual format. Attached is our latest content aggregation of the stories emerging from the pens of Kashmiri journalists.

The International Press Covers the Ongoing Indian Siege on Kashmir

The following is a Pinterest-like selection of videos, media and articles from the international press in its attempt to cover the ongoing siege of Kashmir by the Indian state, whose armed forces are patrolling every street corner and public place of gathering.

20 Must-Read Pieces on Six Months of Kashmir Lockdown - Curated by Majid Maqbool

Majid Maqbool curates a list of 20 must-read pieces on six months of the Kashmir lockdown. Readers and members of the Kashmiri press are welcome to send us their own suggested readings using the form at the end of this curated list.

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Over 170 Academics from Around the World Demand India Restore High-Speed Internet, Release Kashmiri Political Prisoners

While the world readjusts to handle the Coronavirus, Kashmir is stuck under 2G internet (which was first rolled out in 1995) and without adequate equipment and facilities. As a result, the following letter has been sent from the Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN) and Concerned Academics & Professionals from around the world to the World Health Organization, UN Special Rapporteurs, and various international health organizations.

#TheKashmirSyllabus - A List of Sources for Teaching and Learning about Kashmir

Our readers have been asking about reading material to better understand what far too many Kashmiris have bitterly and desolately called The Forgotten Conflict.

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