NIA opposes Kashmiri photojournalist’s bail plea, objects to defence calling J&K ‘conflict zone’

The NIA Thursday opposed the bail plea of Kashmiri  photojournalist Kamran Yousuf arrested last year and charged with waging war against India.

The National Investigating Agency (NIA) opposed the bail application of Yousuf before Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat, saying the allegations levelled against him were “serious”.

Yousuf, a 23-year-old freelance photojournalist and regular contributor to Kashmir’s prominent English daily Greater Kashmir, is in custody since September 5.

“He (Yusuf) was working as a conduit to those raising funds and facilitating their motives. It was all part of a larger conspiracy,” special public prosecutor and senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for NIA, said.

The agency alleged that Yusuf was an active participant in stone pelting and raising “anti-national slogans” and that there were some WhatsApp groups which showed he was having links with the militant outfits, news agency PTI reported.

The counsel also objected to the defence lawyer calling Jammu and Kashmir a ‘conflict-zone’.

“Okay, let us call it a law and order issue,” advocate Warisha Farasat, appearing for the accused, said.

The accused sought relief saying he was working as a journalist and his presence at various stone pelting sites was merely because he was covering those incidents.

“He (Yusuf) is a young boy and trying to establish his career as a photojournalist,” Farasat said.

The court has reserved its order for Friday when it will also pass direction on taking cognisance on the charge sheet filed by the NIA against against 12 people including Lashkare-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin.

Yusuf, a resident of Pulwama, was arrested in September last year along with one Javed Ahmed Bhat, a Kulgam resident, by the NIA in connection with its probe into the alleged funding of militant and “separatist” activities in the Valley.

According to the agency, both were involved in stone- pelting incidents besides organising groups of youths who would throw stones at security personnel involved in counter- insurgency operations.

The Committee to Protect Journalists( CPJ) has demanded release of Yousuf.

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

 

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    By: KN Web Desk

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