On August 6, 2023, an anonymous user posted on X, previously known as Twitter, accusing Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani of collaborating with Indian authorities in monitoring the activities of Kashmiris in Turkey, including those supporting the “pro-[K]ashmir struggle.” The post accused Gilani of committing “crimes and traitorous acts,” according to Gilani and CPJ’s review of the since-deleted post.
The post was made on an anonymous account with the handle @Walnutftz; CPJ could not contact the user as the account’s direct message function was closed.
Gilani, a Turkey-based correspondent for the Chicago-based broadcaster American Muslim Media Network and former editor for the Turkish news agency Anadolu, said he feared for his life after the post, which called him a “collaborator” with Indian authorities.
Gilani said political killings in Kashmir are generally preceded by similar attacks on a victim’s credibility.
Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead in June 2018, 11 days after being similarly accused of “betraying the Kashmiri struggle” in the anonymous blog Kashmir Fight. After Bukhari’s killing, the blog accused Gilani of “furthering India’s interests.”
Gilani told CPJ that he received similar threatening messages from unknown accounts on Twitter in 2019 and 2022, which included posts that were widely circulated and later deleted. CPJ was unable to review those posts.
In October 2020, the Kashmir Fight blog issued similar threats against 39 Kashmiri journalists, labeling them “Indian agents,” before deleting the post.
CPJ’s email to Indian Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla did not immediately receive a reply.