CPJ asks IIOJK authorities to stop harassing journalist Qazi Shibli

Washington, D.C., August 06 (KMS): The US based media watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Friday said that the authorities in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir should cease harassing journalist Qazi Shibli and allow him to report freely.

The CPJ in a statement posted on its website, today, said at approximately 1:00 a.m. on August 5, Indian police raided the home of Shibli, editor of the news website The Kashmiriyat, in Islamabad city in central Kashmir, for approximately two hours while he was not there, according to Shibli, who spoke with CPJ via phone.

Shibli’s mother, two sisters, sister-in-law, two brothers, nephew, and niece were present during the raid at his home, according to Shibli, who said that police confiscated the adults’ phones and computers. Shibli said his own laptop and phone were with him at the time of the raid. At approximately 1:30 a.m. the same day, the police also searched the homes of Shibli’s cousin and grandmother for roughly 20 and 30 minutes respectively, he said.

“The raids on the homes of Qazi Shibli and his family members add to the ongoing pattern of targeted harassment against journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, which must come to an end immediately,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Police should cease harassing Shibli and allow him and other members of the press in Jammu and Kashmir to report freely.”

Police broke the lock of Shibli’s home and forcibly entered the premises without demonstrating a warrant or providing a justification for the raid, according to Shibli. Police also broke several glasses, window panes, and a security camera outside Shibli’s home, and confiscated a CCTV intercom monitor, according to Shibli, and photos of his home following the raid, which CPJ reviewed.

Police asked Shibli’s family members for his location, which they refused to provide, he said. Police also called Shibli’s mother and sister, who were at his home at the time of the raid, “prostitutes,” he said. Shibli said he did not know what, if any, of The Kashmiriyat’s reporting may have triggered the raids. Hours before the raids, The Kashmiriyat reposted a 2017 article on its Facebook page about Kashmiri youth Yawar Nisar, who was killed by Indian forces.

The Kashmiriyat covers general news about Kashmir, including politics and current affairs, according to CPJ’s review. Kashmir Police Inspector-General Vijay Kumar did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment via email.

The IIOJK authorities detained Shibli from July 2019 to April 2020 under draconian law, Public Safety Act without trial. In July 2020, he was detained again for 18 days after he was summoned for questioning by the cybercrime division of the police.