Indian police raid houses, question 4 of journalists in Kashmir

Indian police raid houses, question 4 of journalists in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir raided the homes of four journalists on Wednesday, raising concerns of a further crackdown on press freedom in the disputed region.

After the raids in Srinagar, the main city in the region, the four journalists were summoned to local police stations where they were questioned. Police did not specify the motive for the raids.

Police seized documents and electronic devices, including cell phones and laptops, belonging to the journalists and their spouses.

Three of the journalists have written for foreign media, while one is the editor of a monthly news magazine.

Journalists in Kashmir have long worked under tremendous stress and have been targeted in the past, some fatally, by both the Indian government and militant groups.

Journalists have said that harassment and threats by the police increased after India revoked the semi-autonomous state of Kashmir and divided the region into two federally-ruled territories amid an unprecedented blockade in 2019.

Many journalists have been arrested, beaten, harassed, and at times investigated under anti-terrorism laws.

The Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of journalists in the region, has repeatedly urged the Indian government to allow them to report freely, saying that security agencies were using physical attacks, threats and subpoenas to intimidate journalists and gag. to the press.

India’s decision to strip the region of its special status in August 2019 stopped journalism in Kashmir for months. India introduced a controversial media policy in June last year that gives the government more power to censor independent reporting.

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Fearing retaliation from government agencies, most of the local press weakened under the pressure. Journalists have also come under scrutiny through anonymous online threats that the government says are linked to rebels fighting the Indian government.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and has been claimed by both since they won independence from the British Empire and began fighting over their rival claims.

Since 1989, a full-blown armed rebellion has been unleashed in Indian-controlled Kashmir in search of a united Kashmir, either under the rule of Pakistan or independently of both countries.

The region is one of the most militarized in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have died in the conflict.

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