Kamran Yousuf is a journalist not a terrorist

Earlier this week, India’s National Investigative Agency (NIA) filed a chargesheet against Kashmiri activist, politicians, businessmen and founder of a Pakistan-based militant group. Kamran Yousuf, a young Kashmiri journalist also figures in the list. He has been charged for being a ‘stonepelter’.

Over the last four months, Kamran Yousuf has remained in the custody of the NIA. Despite worldwide outrage against his detention, the Indian agency is unmoved. As if, arresting journalists and criminalizing their work is a badge of honour for the Indian state.

While in Srinagar, the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) that had woken up from a deep slumber, again has got itself in a snooze mode. After WK’s editorial lambasting their silence, they issued a statement to silence their critics. Ironically, the employer of Kamran Yousuf heads the KEG which is supposed to look after the welfare of journalists.

Last night, a Kashmiri journalist who works for an abrasive channel that has been at the front of dehumanising Kashmiris, had no objection to his bosses in India putting Kamran in the ‘terrorist list’. It goes to show that integrity and journalistic ethics are also on sale in Kashmir.

A recent move to grant a ‘press club’ to journalists in Kashmir was duly welcomed by the KEG. They did not speak of Kamran’s detention with Mehbooba Mufti, while continuing to sip the tea that was offered. And gloat over this pile of concrete.

The only support for Kamran has been his family, friends and the Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) that has issued a strongly worded statement against the chargesheet.

“Indian authorities must stop abusing their power and using heavy-handed tactics to go after a photojournalist who was merely doing his job. Kamran Yousuf has already unjustly spent four months in jail and should be released immediately.”

Ironically, the PDP-BJP government that are beating drums over their ‘kind gesture’ to free Kashmiri activists who have been charged for stonepelting, is silent over Kamran being charged for ‘stonepelting’.

As Kamran continues to be in jail, and criminalized for being a fearless journalist. It chips away at the last remnants of world’s largest democracy. A state that’s afraid of the truth, in photographic or any other form in Kashmir.

These tactics to silence journalists will continue, if the journalists in Kashmir do not stand with each other. No matter how many associations of journalists are in Kashmir, they will not work if there’s no empathy and fraternity.

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