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The Hindu journalist questioned by J&K police in 2nd FIR against media personnel in Kashmir

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The Hindu journalist Peerzada Ashiq | Twitter: @peerashiq
The Hindu journalist Peerzada Ashiq | Twitter: @peerashiq


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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police Monday filed an FIR in connection with a news story published by The Hindu Sunday despite a social media campaign against its decision to charge Kashmir-based independent photojournalist Masrat Zahra under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).  

The police have also questioned a senior journalist from The Hindu’s J&K Bureau, Peerzada Ashiq, a move that drew further criticism from the journalist community in the Valley. 

According to a report by The Hindu, Ashiq was called in for questioning by the Cyber Police in Srinagar Sunday and then again on the same evening by the Anantnag police before being permitted to return home.

Describing a report headlined “Kin allowed to exhume bodies of militants in Baramulla” published by The Hindu on April 19 as “fake news,” the Jammu and Kashmir police have registered an FIR in the matter,” reads The Hindu report on 20 April.

The report was on two militants killed in an encounter in South Kashmir’s Shopian region. Two families had come forward to claim the bodies of the slain militants whom the authorities had said were unidentified. 

The administration had buried the slain militants in a graveyard in Sheeri, Baramulla, reserved for foreign, unidentified or unclaimed militants.


Also read: Blame Amit Shah for UAPA changes but Nehru, Indira ignored civil liberties too


Report said authorities granted permission for exhumation

Ashiq’s 19 April report had claimed that the families had been allowed to exhume the bodies.

The Hindu’s report was based on a quote from the uncle of a slain militant, Ghulam Nabi Magray. However, contrary to what he conveyed to the reporter, no permission for exhumation of the bodies had been given,” The Hindu’s 20 April report said. “Apparently, the families had misconstrued grant of a movement/curfew pass as sanction for exhumation.”

A J&K police release claimed details quoted in the news item “were factually incorrect and could cause fear or alarm in the minds of public”.

The news was published without seeking confirmation from the district authorities,” said the police press release. An FIR (No. 81/2020) was registered in relation to the news item at the Anantnag police station, the release added.

A police source said that the FIR does not name Ashiq or the publication as “accused” and that it was likely more people would be questioned during the investigation. This, the police source said, would include those who might have shared the The Hindu report.


Also read: Shopian families who claimed bodies of 2 slain militants now asked to provide DNA samples


FIR draws criticism 

The FIR against The Hindu report also drew criticism on social media much like the police action against Masrat Zahra. 

While Masrat’s case saw people demanding the charges be dropped using #IstandwithMasratZahra hashtag, support poured in for Ashiq from various quarters.

The international journalist body, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had on 20 April demanded that authorities in J&K “immediately stop harassing journalists Masrat Zahra and Peerzada Ashiq, and let them report freely”.

The Kashmir Press Club also issued a statement on the FIR against Ashiq. 

“Police on Sunday (April 19) verbally summoned a senior journalist, Peerzada Ashiq, of The Hindu and asked him to explain the alleged factual inaccuracies in a story that was published the same day,” the statement said. “While Peerzada explained his case to police in Srinagar, he was asked to travel to south Kashmir, some 40 kilometers away in evening, and present himself before a police officer in Anantnag district. He returned late in the midnight to his home in Srinagar but in the meantime his family was terrified and concerned about his safety.”

Masrat is also expected to be questioned by officials at the Cyber police station in Srinagar today. She tweeted that she was entering the police station at about 3.30 pm. 

 

Police have claimed Masrat allegedly posted “anti-national” content on social media without specifying which of the social media posts of the photojournalist were found to be in contravention of the law. 


Also read: For first time in 148 years, Jammu & Kashmir delays Darbar Move


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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