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NIA court frames sedition charges against ‘The Kashmir Walla’ editor Fahad Shah for publishing ‘seditious’ article, was arrested last year for glorifying terrorism

State Investigation Agency claimed that the article was found to be “against national integration and supported the claim of secession of a part of the country’s territory”.

A special National Investigation Agency court in Jammu has slapped sedition and UAPA charges against The Kashmir Walla editor Peerzada Fahad Shah. According to reports, a special judge designated under the NIA Act, Ashwani Kumar, framed the charges on Thursday (March 16) for publishing a “seditious” article on his news website. Along with Shah, similar charges have also been framed against the writer of the article, Abdul Ala Fazili, a Kashmir University PhD student.

Peerzada Fahad Shah has been charged under sections 13 and 18 of the UAPA, IPC sections 121 and 153B and sections 35 (accepting foreign contribution in contravention of provisions of FCRA, or any order or rule therein) and 39 (violation of FCRA by a company tantamount to contravention by the persons incharge or responsible for business of such company) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Fahad is the editor-in-chief of ‘The Kashmir Walla,’ an online news portal. The digital journal debuted in 2011. It claims to cover news and other socio-cultural concerns in J&K. The Kashmir Walla gained has been vocally opposing the Centre’s decision to withdraw J&K’s special status on August 5, 2019.

Meanwhile, Abdul Ala Fazili has been charged under sections 13 (unlawful activity) and 18 (conspiracy, advocating, abetting, inciting, facilitating a terrorist act or any preparation to commit a terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sections 121 (abetting waging of war against the Government of India), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The case was filed after the news website The Kashmir Walla, the editor-in-chief of which is Fahad Shah, published an article written by Abdul Ala Fazili- The Shackles of Slavery Will Break. State Investigation Agency claimed that the article was found to be “against national integration and supported the claim of secession of a part of the country’s territory”.

Officials privy to the case said that the CIJ police station (SIA-Jammu) received information on April 4 2022, along with a copy of an article titled “The Shackles of Slavery Will Break.” SIA filed a chargesheet in the case in the special judge’s court on October 13, 2022, after procuring the requisite government sanction.

“The duo, under an active conspiracy and Pakistan’s support, resurrected a platform reviving the narrative in support of the terrorist and separatist ecosystem. They were spreading an anti-India narrative by exploiting digital platforms under a concealed and camouflaged set-up with the help of illicit funding received from hostile foreign agencies and proscribed terrorist organisations,” said the official. 

After hearing the arguments, the court decided that the SIA had gathered sufficient evidence against the accused and drafted charges against Fazili and Shah.

According to the official, the investigation revealed that the accused were in contact with secessionists across the border and with some local terrorists.

“Through their publications, they have brazenly advocated terrorism and glorified terrorists with the sole intention to radicalise youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir and entice and incite them in joining secessionist and terrorist organisations,” the official said.

The Kashmir Walla editor Fahad Shah arrested for promoting anti-national content on Facebook, glorifying terrorist activities

It may be recalled that the Jammu & Kashmir Police had in February last year detained Fahad Shah, editor of the prominent Srinagar-based news portal The Kashmir Walla for anti-national activities and sharing provocative content on the social media platform Facebook.

In January last year, Sajad Gul, a trainee reporter with The Kashmir Walla, was also held for allegedly “provoking the people against the government and spreading animosity” through his tweets. Since then, Gul has been arrested under the Public Safety Act’s provisions.

Abdul Aala Fazili was arrested for his ‘Highly Provocative And Seditious’ article

Notably, on April 17, 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir State Investigation Agency (SIA) arrested a PhD scholar of the University of Kashmir for the “highly provocative and seditious” article he wrote for Faizal Shah’s The Kashmir Walla portal.

The officials had said then that Fazili’s article, titled ‘The shackles of slavery will break’, is “highly provocative, seditious and intended to create unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, and written with the purpose of abetting the youth to take the path of violence by glorifying terrorism”. It also “promoted and propagated the false narrative, which is essential to sustain secessionist-cum-terrorist campaign aimed at breaking the territorial integrity of India.”

“The article has used prescriptive language with instructional intent, encouraging secessionist elements to carry out terror activities,” the official said.

The official added that the repeated reference to freedom and terror outfits’ rhetoric made it amply clear that the article is not merely propaganda, “rather, it is the articulation of Pakistan ISI and the vision of its sponsored terrorist secessionist networks.” 

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