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Pakistan launches propaganda in support of Kashmiri ‘journalists’ arrested for anti-India activities

One of the hashtags used by the Pakistani handles is "clampdown_on_journalists_in_iiojk". Upon analysis, we found that the hashtag was used in over 300 posts on March 31 alone.

On April 1, Jammu & Kashmir Counter Disinformation Centre (JKCDC) detailed multiple campaigns being run by Pakistani handles in support of so-called Kashmiri ‘journalists’ arrested by security agencies for their involvement in anti-India activities.

The accused, including Irfan Mehraj, Fahad Shah, Aasif Sultan, and Sajad Gul, are being projected as innocent journalists arrested by security agencies as they reported on “India’s atrocities”. These so-called journalists were arrested under various charges, including funding terrorist groups, receiving illegal foreign funds and criminal conspiracy, among others.

One of the hashtags used by the Pakistani handles is “clampdown_on_journalists_in_iiojk”. Upon analysis, we found that the hashtag was used in over 300 posts on March 31 alone.

Hastag clampdown_on_journalists_in_iiojk’s engagement on March 31. Source: Talkwalker.

133 of these posts originated from Pakistan as their IP addresses indicated. Over 120 tweets had a United States IP. In the top 10 engaging accounts for the hashtag on March 31, Areeba Kiani was listed by TalkWalker analysis for Twitter.

Top accounts tweeting propaganda hashtag clampdown_on_journalists_in_iiojk. Source: Talkwalker.

Details about so-called ‘journalists arrested by Indian agencies

Irfan Mehraj

On March 20, National Investigation Agency arrested “journalist” Irfan Mehraj in connection to a terror funding case. In a statement, the central agency stated that Mehraj was a close associate of ‘activist’ Khurram Parvez and a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS).

“Investigation revealed that the JKCCS was funding terror activities in the valley and had also been in (the) propagation of secessionist agenda in the Valley under the garb of protection of human rights,” NIA informed.

He is one of the favourite anti-India elements that the intellectuals and left liberals have attempted to save. They have tried multiple times to paint a good picture of him and claim he was arrested illegally by the Indian security agencies.

Fahad Shah

On March 16, NIA framed charges under sedition and UAPA against Peerzada Fahad Shah of The Kashmir Walla. Peerzada Fahad Shah has been charged under sections 13 and 18 of the UAPA, IPC sections 121 and 153B and sections 35 (accepting a foreign contribution in contravention of provisions of FCRA, or any order or rule therein) and 39 (violation of FCRA by a company tantamount to a contravention by the persons in-charge or responsible for the business of such company) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

In February 2020, he was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir Police for anti-national activities and sharing provocative content on the social media platform Facebook.

Sajad Gul

Sajad Gul, a Kashmiri journalist, was arrested in January 2022 for whipping up anti-India sentiments by uploading a protest video with anti-national slogans raised by some women after wanted terrorist Saleem Parray was eliminated in Shalimar Srinagar. Gul was arrested for instigating people to “resort to violence and disturb public peace.”

“…the said person under the garb of journalist [sic] is habitual of spreading disinformation/false narratives through different social media platforms to create ill will against the government by provoking general masses to resort to violence and disturb public peace and tranquillity,” the statement released by the police read. He was charged under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505B (fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.

Aasif Sultan

 ‘Journalist’ Aasif Sultan was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 for similar offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, a stringent anti-terror law. Sultan was arrested for harbouring known terrorists, and charged with murder, attempt to murder and other crimes.

In 2016, after Indian forces took down terrorist Burhan Wani, Sultan published a report eulogising the terrorist, asserting that Wani was more dangerous for India “in his grave than in his living room.” Sultan was recently booked under the Public Safety Act after police said he worked for the banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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