New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday reserved its order on the bail plea of freelance photo-journalist Kamran Yousuf, after his lawyer argued that there was no evidence against him and his arrest was made to “gag the media”. Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat reserved the order for February 19 after hearing arguments from Yousuf’s side and that of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which said that the allegations levelled against Yousuf were serious in nature.
The NIA has filed a charge sheet against 12 Kashmiris, one of whom is Yousuf, in the case it has registered of “terror funding” in Kashmir Valley. Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin are among others named in the NIA charge sheet.
The advocate appearing for Yousuf told the court that there was no evidence in the charge sheet against Yousuf.
“There is nothing in the charge sheet against my client. It only claims that he was in contact with other journalists but does not show any conspiracy with the other co-accused in the case,” Advocate Warisha Farasat said.
“They are trying to gag the media through his custody. Now NIA is trying to teach what journalism means. This is just an abuse of the process of law,” the advocate said.
Yousuf has 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.
The NIA had earlier alleged in court that Yousuf was acting as a conduit for those involved in terror funding.
“He (Yousuf) was working as a conduit to those raising funds and facilitating their motives. It was all part of a larger conspiracy,” the NIA had told the court.
The agency had alleged that Yousuf was an “active participant” in stone-pelting and raising anti-national slogans and that there were some WhatsApp groups which showed he had links with terror outfits.
Yousuf, a resident of Pulwama, was arrested in September along with Javed Ahmed Bhat, a Kulgam resident, by the NIA.
The bail pleas of Bhat and Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, also arrested in the case of terror-funding, are also pending before the court, which will hear arguments on the matter on February 23.
The agency said that the two accused had circulated pictures and videos on social networking sites that sparked widespread rumours in the Valley.