A YEAR-LONG investigation by the BBC into the state of journalism in India-held Kashmir has ruffled feathers, with the Jammu and Kashmir Police warning of legal action against the UK’s public broadcaster, The Wire reported on Saturday.

Local police have taken umbrage at the BBC News report by Yogita Limaye, titled ‘Any story could be your last’ —India’s crackdown on Kashmir press’, which details a “sinister and systematic campaign to intimidate and silence the press”.

According to The Wire, J&K Police said the report “unfairly castigates law and order efforts” as “biased against journalists.”

The report details the story behind the detention and prosecution of Kashmiri journalists Asif Sultan, Fahad Shah, Sajad Gul and Irfan Meraj, among others.

More than 90pc of the journalists BBC spoke to said they had been summoned by the police at least once, many of them multiple times over a story. “Some said the tone of the police was polite. Others said they were met with anger and threats,” the report said.

Journalists from held-Kashmir told the UK broadcaster the Indian government is trying to shut down reporting related to separatist movements and militant groups, but also any coverage critical of the security forces or the administration, even on day-to-day civic issues.

According to The Wire, an official spokesperson of J&K Police said on X, formerly Twitter, that the State Investigation Agency “reserves the right to initiate further legal action” against the BBC for “misreporting facts in a case which is sub judice.”

However, police didn’t clarify what they meant by “misreporting of facts”.

In its rebuttal, the J&K Police said that its “actions” against journalists “have stood the test of law and judiciary and changed the security environment in the union territory immensely.”

A BBC spokesperson told The Wire, “We would simply say that the BBC stands by its journalism.”

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2023

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