Kashmiri activist booked for sedition over statements against Indian army

Published September 6, 2019
Shehla Rashid stands by her comments that Indian armed forces tortured civilians, ransacked houses in occupied Kashmir. — AFP/File
Shehla Rashid stands by her comments that Indian armed forces tortured civilians, ransacked houses in occupied Kashmir. — AFP/File

Indian authorities booked a political leader and activist from occupied Kashmir, Shehla Rashid, under sedition charges over her tweets in which she had said that Indian armed forces tortured civilians and ransacked houses in the disputed territory after its special status was revoked, The Wire reported on Friday.

Rashid, a leader of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement, called the charges “frivolous, politically motivated and a pathetic attempt to silence” her.

The activist had been a prominent student leader in the Jawaharlal Nehru University and had served as the vice-president of the students’ union there.

She was also charged for spreading “fake news” with the intention to “malign the image of Indian Army”, police told PTI on Friday.

Last month, Rashid took to Twitter and in a series of tweets alleged that Indian armed forces entered houses in occupied Kashmir at night and “ransacked” them. She also alleged that they “interrogated" four Kashmiri people in a camp in Shopian.

In response to the tweets, a lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, had filed a complaint with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, claiming that Rashid had levelled “absolutely false and concocted” allegations.

Following the complaint, an inquiry was initiated, and later, Rashid was booked under section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was registered on September 3, officials said.

Rashid, however, stands by her comments and has said that she could give proof if the Indian army was to initiate an inquiry into her claims.

Since the imposition of the curfew by India on August 5, international human rights organisations as well as political leaders from both India and Pakistan have decried the suffering faced by Kashmiris.

Amnesty International India yesterday launched a global campaign in a bid to highlight the human cost of the month-long lockdown.

"The draconian communication blackout in [occupied] Kashmir is an outrageous protracted assault on the civil liberties of the people of Kashmir," read a press release by the human rights watchdog.

"In response to this indefinite communication blackout, Amnesty International India has launched the campaign #LetKashmirSpeak on 5 September, 2019 – which marks a month of the communications blackout, to ask for immediate lifting of the lockdown," stated Amnesty International India.

Last month, the administration of occupied Kashmir had sent back a delegation of India’s top opposition leaders, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, shortly after they landed in Srinagar.

The opposition leaders had intended to visit Srinagar to assess the situation in the wake of the BJP government's decision to revoke the occupied region's special autonomy but were barred from entering the city.

Following the forced repatriation, nine Indian opposition parties fearing that something grave is afoot in the disputed region, came together in a protest demanding the immediate release of political leaders detained there.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had said, “Something grave is happening in J&K and the government is trying to hide it. The media is not allowed to telecast the truth.”

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