Militant group threatens to kill journalists in Kashmir

New York, April 30, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the threat issued yesterday by the militant group Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen against journalists working “against the freedom struggle” in the disputed territory of Kashmir. The organization is one of more than a dozen armed groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The rebel group’s statement was published on Tuesday, April 29, by the Current News Service, a private news agency based in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir. In the statement, a senior commander of Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen was quoted as saying, “There are seven dailies among the local ones and a well-known news agency which work at the behest of the Indian (intelligence) agencies and are paid by them,” according to a translation of the report prepared by The Associated Press. “We inform such journalists that they will be killed if they fail to mend their ways,” added the commander, identified as Dr. Abd-ar-Rabb. The statement did not identify any journalist or news organization by name.

Violence in the region has spiked recently, even as the prime ministers of India and Pakistan announced plans this week to improve strained bilateral relations and resume dialogue over Kashmir.

On April 26, three militants attacked the heavily guarded compound housing the Indian government–run broadcasters Doordarshan Television and Radio Kashmir, located in central Srinagar. The three assailants and two security guards were killed in an ensuing gun battle.

According to CPJ records, nine journalists have been killed for their work in Kashmir since 1989, when the conflict there became a full-fledged civil war. CPJ is still investigating the motive behind the January 31 murder of a 10th journalist, Parvaz Mohammed Sultan, editor of an independent wire service based in Srinagar. No perpetrators have been brought to justice for any of these killings.