Press Council of India today issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Jammu and Kashmir police officials and state officials regarding the arrest of Kamran Yousuf by the NIA. Yousuf, is a freelance photojournalist operating in South Kashmir.
PCI has taken a Suo moto cognizance regarding the arrest of the photo journalist and has given two weeks time to the agencies to file their reply.
The letter addressed to the Director General and the Inspector general of National Investigation Agency, Chief Secretary, and Secretary Home (Police) Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, DGP of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, said that the matter is prima facia concerned with the freedom of press in the country.
The Press Council of India which is a quassi-judicial statutory authority has “viewed the incident with concern and taken the suo-motu cognizance of the matter under Regulation 13 of Press Council (procedure for inquiry) Regulation, 1979”.
The letter which is dated 12 September said , “It has been brought to the notice of the Council that Jammu and Kashmir police arrested Pulwama based freelance photo journalist Kamran Yousuf and handed him over to the National Investigation Agency.”
Kamran Yousuf, a freelance photojournalist from south Kashmir was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police on September 4 and then handed over to the NIA on 5 September.
The NIA had arrested him along with another youth from South Kashmir on charges of stone pelting. However, a report by a New Delhi based TV news channel claimed that Yousuf was arrested on charges of circulating videos and photos of militants.
“Yousuf was not only involved but was systematically circulating videos and photos of militants to incite youth,” the report quoted unidentified officials in the NIA.
Meanwhile, local media body and journalist associations had asked the investigating agency to come clear on the charges leveled against the photo journalist.
The Kashmir Editors Guild on Tuesday said it was concerned about the detention of freelance photographer Kamran Yousuf by the National Investigation Agency.
Pertinently, The Rights watchdog Amnesty International India on Wednesday said that they are seeking information about the arrested photo journalist.
“I think we are trying to get information about what the actual reason(s) and under what sections he has been booked, and then we will make an assessment,” Shailesh Rai, Senior Policy Advisor at AI India said.
“We are going to approach the government after getting information.”
Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had also assured that he will look into the arrest of Kamran Yousuf.
According to the reports, some senior Kashmiri journalists raised the issue of Yousuf’s arrest with Singh after he concluded his visit to Kashmir Valley.
They said that Singh directed MoS in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, Yousuf was remanded to 10-day NIA custody by a court in Delhi on 6 September.