Srinagar: In what may come as a major revelation, opening a can of worms about role of self-acclaimed keyboard warriors in fostering terrorism, Srinagar Police have kick-started investigations into a murky news story authored by one Shahid Tantray recently, police officials said.
A news story “False Flags: The Indian Army’s secretive role in hyper-nationalist protests in Kashmir” published in a New-Delhi based magazine, known for its one-sided reportage, recently came under the scanner after the article mischievously and unethically mentioned names of several local citizens, levelling false allegations on them.
The article authored by Tantray, by calling recent spontaneous protests against civilian killings by terrorists as “staged”, without solid evidence has lead to a watershed moment, an
expose of keyboard warriors, said highly placed sources.
Many netizens have already tagged Tantray’s work of ulterior motives as "Kashmir Fight Blog 2.0". The 16-page article of Tantray is a testimony that similar to Kashmir Fight Blog, a mudslinging fest that eventually got busted by the Police, Tantray’s article was written with an intention of being a smear campaign meant to character assassinate respectable citizens, making them vulnerable to become targets for terror elements.
For practicing irresponsible “journalism” by endangering lives of innocent citizens and dubbing them as “agents”, Tantray, a cheerleader of unrest, is now in the dock, police sources said.
Days after being summoned in connection with the false claims made in the article, Tantray on Saturday appeared before the Srinagar Police for questioning where he was quizzed for hours.
According to police sources, the possibilities of any terror angle/agenda is being investigated by a team of senior police officers.
Earlier, Fahad Shah, the Editor-in-chief of the online news magazine, ‘thekashmirwalla’, was arrested on February 4 this year by the Pulwama police. He was granted bail by a special court under the NIA Act after 22 days in custody, on February 26. Subsequently, he was arrested by the Shopian police.
In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir Police had noted that journalist Fahad Shah was wanted in three cases for glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news & inciting general public for creating law and order situations.
The 33-year-old was arrested for social media posts tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities and causing dent to the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing ill-will and disaffection against the country.
The arrest in Shopian, on the heels of his first bail, came in a case filed by the Army against two news portals including ‘thekashmirwalla’ under Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code in January last year. This came after a report published in the magazine, alleging a local army unit of forcing an Islamic seminary school to hold Republic Day celebrations on January 26 in Shopian.
Meanwhile, a third FIR was filed in Pulwama police station after Shah’s magazine published a story quoting family members of one of the deceased militants denying police claims. The police had contested the claims made in the report.
Having started as a news trainee with local dailies, an unassuming Fahad Shah developed a spine to an extent that glamorization of terror became his hallmark. Shah lured scores of young minds to tempt them of ‘real journalism’ only to end up their promising careers becoming puppets of inimical elements.
A young journalist, requesting anonymity, describes Shah as someone “who always had ill-intentions and a longing that the law and order situation in Kashmir remains on tenterhooks”.
“Reporters like him would drive miles to click photographs of a widow to only sell it for hefty dollars to foreign media houses. Not journalism or any social service but for awards and rewards people like Shah romanticized pain and suffering” he said.
Shah is among several other so-called journalists in Kashmir, who got featured in the #MeToo campaign after being accused of misconduct with innocent girls. Shah is known for giving sermons on press freedom but is a shady character himself.
34-year-old Asif Sultan is another glaring example of an arm-chair factory of so-called scribes. He was first arrested from Srinagar’s Batamaloo on August 27, 2018, for harboring militancy in Kashmir. While working as the assistant editor of the Srinagar-based magazine Kashmir Narrator, Sultan had written profile and hailed terrorist Burhan Wani in July 2018.
After nearly four year behind bars, Sultan was last arrested by officers of Counter Intelligence Kashmir under the Public Safety Act (PSA). He was shifted to the Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu.
A Srinagar-based reporter, wishing anonymity says “it had become fashionable to be an Asif Sultan, an armchair scribe rather than do leg-work and chase good human interest stories about development and growth”.
“In which journalism lexicon is a terrorist who kills innocent civilians a rebel. For years now this handful of supari journalists in the name of journalism have hailed terrorists as heroes” says the reporter. “Not just reportage but the social media handles especially Twitter is a platform misused by these cronies”.
Earlier, in a big victory for the Indian law enforcement agencies, the United States had shut down pro-Pakistan ‘kashmirfight.wordpress.com’ blog which ran smear campaigns and profiled prominent personalities in Kashmir
Terror outfits based out of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) would use the blog to threaten journalists, bureaucrats and social activists by accusing them of being pro-India.
The effort to get the blog suspended was on since 2018 and Jammu & Kashmir Police had written several letters to WordPress to take it down. It also submitted several proofs which showed that it was being used to target people in the Valley. The CID wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police played a major role in gathering the information which established the connection between the blog and assassinations of prominent Kashmiris.
Worthy to highlight that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has recently reiterated that some elements across the border are constantly trying to disturb peace in Jammu and Kashmir, but terrorism is in its last leg, the LG had added. Sinha said the administration and the security forces were fully prepared and will not let those elements succeed and the entire terror eco-syetem will be wiped out soon.
“People of Kashmir understand and many, including religious preachers, have openly condemned such acts (of violence). When a lamp is about to go off, its flare flares more. It (militancy) is in its last leg, but they are trying for the return of those days (when militancy was at its peak). The administration and the security forces are preparing with their full might (to deal with it)” Sinha had said.