ISLAMABAD             -        Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi Monday extolled the journalist fraternity of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) for their resilience and courage to speak truth to the power despite intimidations by the fascist Indian regime.

Afridi was speaking to a group of journalists from IIOJ&K working in Pakistan. The Kashmiri media delegation comprised of Mohammad Ashraf Wani, Ghulam Nabi Baig, Rais Ahmed, Hilal Ahmed, Shabbir Hussain and Zahoor Ahmed Sofi.  

On the occasion Afridi congratulated Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra for winning the prestigious Peter Mackler Award. He said although Indian regime has lodged a case under anti-terrorism charges against Masrat but the brave journalist has defied all odds to report and reflect the ground situation.

Afridi also showered praises on other Kashmiri journalists including Mukhtar Khan, Dar Yasin and Channi Anand who won Pulitzer Award recently and said world was acknowledging work of the Kashmiri journalists, Indian regime was trying its best to gag the Kashmiri media to hide war crimes being committed by Indian forces in the Occupied Kashmir. Afridi said dozens of Kashmiri journalists have been summoned to police stations and criminal investigations department of the local police in a bid to harass them. He said such attempts are not only designed to criminalize independent journalism but also seek to muzzle whatever remains of the freedom of the press in a besieged Kashmir.

He said First Information Reports (FIR) against journalists in Kashmir signal the authorities’ attempt to curb the right to freedom of expression. Harassment and intimidation of journalists through draconian laws such as UAPA has created an atmosphere of fear and reprisal. Afridi said journalists working in occupied Kashmir were unsung heroes who defying Indian occupation were telling the world truth about Kashmir.

“Gowher Geelani and Masrat Zahra were slapped terrorism charges (UAPA) for reporting facts about Kashmir. Another journalist Qazi Shibli was arrested only for highlighting facts about a fake encounter in Shopian,” he said.  Journalist Asif Sultan has been under illegal detention for around two years for writing a piece on Burhan Wani.

“There are dozens of journalists who are being summoned by counter-intelligence department of Jammu and Kashmir Police on daily basis and they are forced to reveal their sources. This is all just to pressurise journalists not to report facts about ongoing genocide in Kashmir,” he added. Afridi said fascist Indian regime must understand that the targeting of Kashmiri journalists would not work and rather this fascist approach would provide more courage and energy to the Kashmiri journalists to bring facts.

He urged world journalist organisations like Committee to Protect Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Journalists Without Borders and other world organisations to take cognisance of the harassment of Kashmiri journalists and take action to put an end to media curbs in IIOJK.