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Indian authorities arrest Kashmiri journalist in ‘terror funding’ case

A freelance journalist in India-administered Kashmir, Irfan Mehraj, has been arrested by the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA), according to an official statement. 

Mehraj’s arrest was in connection with an ongoing probe into an alleged “NGO terror funding” case, said the Agency spokesman in the statement on Tuesday.

“Following comprehensive investigations into the NGO Terror funding case registered in October 2020, the National Investigation Agency arrested Irfan Mehraj from Srinagar (J&K) yesterday (20.03.2023),” the spokesman said. 

Mehraj who worked as a freelancer and an online editor with was arrested from his hometown Srinagar, the capital city of the region on Monday evening.

One of his family members told Anadolu Agency that Mehraj was on an assignment when he was called by the investigation agency at their office in Srinagar.

“We came to know about it later that he has been arrested and taken to Delhi,” the family member said.

As per the statement, Mehraj is the first arrest made in connection with the case.

The case dates back to October 2020.


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Incarcerated Kashmir human rights activist Khurram Parvez is also an accused in the same case and has been in jail since 2021.

The statement by the agency said that Mehraj was a close associate of Parvez and was working with his organisation, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS) where he was working as a researcher.

“Investigation revealed that the JKCCS was funding terror activities in the Kashmir valley and had also been in propagation of secessionist agenda under the garb of protection of human rights,” read the statement.

“Involvement of some Valley based NGOs, Trusts and Societies in funding of terror related activities is being probed in this case,” it said.

Silencing the press

Mehraj’s arrest was also condemned by many in Kashmir, including journalists, who termed his arrest as a measure to silence the press in Kashmir.

The Journalist Federation of Kashmir, a media advocacy group, condemned the arrest.

Referring to Mehraj as a hard-working journalist in the region, it said: “His arrest seems to be another tactic of intimidating journalists in Kashmir who have always worked under perilous conditions, holding up values of press freedom in the face of dangers to life and liberty.”

It further said that for a vibrant press to flourish in a society, authorities have to move beyond hollow claims of respect for press freedom and work towards a conducive environment where a journalist can report the facts on ground and express opinion on social media without fear and the threat of arrest.

The former chief minister of the region, Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the arrest and took a jab at authorities for giving free run to imposters while punishing journalists in the region for their work.

“While conmen are given a free run in Kashmir, journalists like Irfan Mehraj are arrested for doing their duty by speaking the truth. Draconian laws like UAPA are abused constantly to ensure that the process itself becomes the punishment,” the former chief minister tweeted.

Mehraj is the fourth journalist to be jailed in the region. Other journalists jailed by the authorities include Asif Sultan, Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul.

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