Two journalists were called for questioning by Jammu and Kashmir police after reporting on a Kashmir Valley shutdown call issued by banned separatist outfit JKLF to mark the hanging of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat. The police, who have also filed a FIR (first information report) against the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, said the journalists were only questioned and not detained.
However, journalists' groups in the newly-formed union territory have criticised the action, calling it harassment and alleging the cops were defining what they could and could not report. Some journalists met the police yesterday to seek release of their colleagues.
The journalists in question had carried the full JKLF statement of the shutdown call, which is believed to be the first by separatists since the centre's August 5 decision to withdraw special status to J&K under Article 370 and split it into two union territories.
Mobile internet (2G) services in Kashmir, which had been restored last month after being cut as part of the post-August 5 lockdown, have been suspended again, with Afzal Guru's death anniversary in mind.
The Yasin Malik-led JKLF was banned by the centre in March last year under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. Yasin Malik had been detained at Srinagar Airport a month earlier and booked under the Public Safety Act. He has been in Delhi's Tihar Jail since.
Then Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said the organisation was also involved in the murder of Kashmiri Pandits that triggered their exodus from the Valley.
"Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley and is responsible for their genocide," he said, adding there were 37 cases currently against JKLF.
Afzal Guru was hanged for his role in the 2001 attack on parliament, in which five heavily-armed gunmen opened fire and killed 10 people, including five Delhi Police personnel.
Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Delhi's Tihar Jail and his body was buried inside the jail. Since then family and political groups have been demanding return of mortal remains for his last rites.
The JKLF had issued the call to mark their deaths; Maqbool Bhat was hanged February 11, 1984, and Afzal Guru on February 9, 2013.
Security forces in J&K are on high alert during this 72-hour period; on Wednesday a CRPF solider and two terrorists were killed in a gun battle outside Srinagar. Cops said the encounter began after three terrorists fired on CRPF personnel at a mobile unit in the area.
According to news agency PTI security forces had intelligence inputs suggesting terrorists would attempt more strikes at security installations ahead of Afzal Guru's seventh death anniversary.
With input from PTI