On November 19, 2022, police in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir conducted raids in 12 locations including the homes of at least seven journalists — Mohammad Rafi, Gowhar Geelani, Khalid Gul, Rashid Maqbool, Sajjad Kralyari, Qazi Shibli, and Waseem Khalid — according to Indian newspaper The Telegraph and a police statement reviewed by CPJ.
The journalists are all freelancers, except for Shibli who is the editor of news website The Kashmiriyat.
Police seized electronic devices including laptops, mobiles phone, memory cards, and pen-drives during the raids, the statement added. The home of Adil Pandit, a lawyer representing imprisoned journalist Aasif Sultan, was also raided, The Telegraph said.
Police said they raided the homes of the journalists in an investigation into a militant group that threatened other members of the media. One of the journalists whose home was raided told CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, that he is not linked to any militant group, and that he believes is being targeted for his critical reporting.
At least two journalists whose homes were raided have been subject to official scrutiny in the past. In February, authorities issued an arrest warrant for Geelani, who went underground. Authorities raided Shibli’s home in August 2021.
The recent raids came after police in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, said in a November 16 Twitter statement that they had initiated an investigation into online threats against journalists allegedly made by militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and The Resistance Front, which police described as a Lashkar-e-Taiba offshoot.
According to The Telegraph, the threats were made on a blog, KashmirFight.com, against 21 journalists “allegedly working for the State [of India]”; the blog called the journalists “stooges” and “traitors.” The Telegraph said that most of the journalists named are employed at three Srinagar news outlets — newspapers Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir and news website Asian News Network. CPJ emailed the three outlets but did not receive an immediate response.
CPJ could not locate the threatening post on KashmirFight.com.
The blog has issued threats in the past. In June 2018, the blog said Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari “betray[ed] the Kashmir struggle”; 11 days later the journalist was killed, according to news reports. In October 2020, the blog issued a similar threat to 39 Kashmiri journalists, accusing them of being “Indian agents,” CPJ documented.
CPJ sent requests for comment to Dilbag Singh, director-general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, via messaging app but did not receive a response.