9 July 1996

Alert

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
journalists.




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
    freedom
  • 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
    USA
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568
    India

    IFEX members working in this country 1

     
    More from India
    • India: Pursuing truth in the face of intolerance

      PEN International's freedom of expression report on India

    • Freedom on the Net 2017: India

      The Supreme Court recognized privacy as a fundamental right in a landmark ruling in August 2017

    • Freedom of the Press 2017: India

      In May, the Supreme Court ruled to retain criminal defamation, despite calls for decriminalization.

     
    More from Asia & Pacific
    • TRUTH VS MISINFORMATION: THE COLLECTIVE PUSH BACK

      SOUTH ASIA PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2018-2019

    • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

      Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

    • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

      The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region