9 July 1996


Indian-backed militia in Kashmir abducts and detains 19 journalists for over seven hours

On 8 July 1996, an Indian-backed counter-insurgency militia
kidnapped and detained 19 journalists in Kashmir. The journalists,
who were released unharmed that same evening, were held as
hostages by the militia to secure a meeting with the editors of
Kashmir's leading newspapers. The 19 journalists were traveling
together from Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, to a press
conference called by the Muslim Mujahideen, one of several Indian-
backed militias in the region. They were intercepted at Anantnag,
a town 50 kilometres (35 miles) south of Srinagar, by gunmen of
another Indian-backed militia, the Jammu and Kashmir Ikhwan, and
taken to the nearby headquarters of Ikhwan commander Hilal Haider.

Haider segregated six journalists who worked for the Kashmiri
press: reporters Gulzar Ahmed and Abdul Qayoom of the Urdu daily
"Uqab", Masood Ahmed of the Urdu daily "Wadi-ki-Awaz", Shujaat
Bukhari of the English-language daily "Kashmir Times", Zahoor
Shair of the Urdu daily "Al-Safa", and photographer Maqbool Sahil
of the Urdu weekly "Chattan". He said all six would be killed
unless the editors of Srinagar's eight major daily newspapers
appeared before him by noon the following day. The eight editors
had disregarded a "ban" that Haider had ordered on their
newspapers the previous week for having given the Ikhwan
inadequate coverage. The editors, who were informed of the threat
by phone, said they would not heed the summons.

Haider told the other 13 journalists -- mostly correspondents for
the Indian and international press -- that they were free to
leave. The thirteen, however, insisted on staying until their
colleagues were released as well. Seven-and-a-half hours after the
abduction, and following protests to Indian authorities by
journalists in Srinagar, an elite commando unit known as the
Rashtriya Rifles intervened and secured the release of all 19

A list of all nineteen journalists detained on 8 July by the Jammu
and Kashmir Ikhwan follows.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to Indian authorities:

  • expressing concern at the militias as a grave threat to press
  • calling on Indian authorities to disarm them

    Appeals To

    His Excellency H.D. Deve Gowda
    Prime Minister
    South Block
    New Delhi 110 011, India
    Fax: +91 11 3016857

    His Excellency Indrajit Gupta
    Minister of Home Affairs
    Room 26, North Block
    New Delhi 110 001, India
    Fax: +91 11 3015750

    Please copy appeals to the originator if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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