SRINAGAR: A court on Monday did not allow Shahid Imran, the editor of Kashmir Crown, to be released from police custody after he filed a bail application in the case of extortion for which he has been arrested.
The bail was rejected even after his counsel argued on Shahid’s behalf that he had not “indulged in any crime whatsoever.”
Imran’s counsel argued that his client was put behind bars merely on the basis of some enmity. The public prosecutor argued that the charges under which the self-styled journalist was booked on August 27 for forgery, cheating, intimidation and extortion, were serious offences.
“Extortion, cheating, forgery, intimidation and criminal conspiracy are not minor offences especially by a person who has gained public faith,” argued the prosecutor. “And if such a person is enlarged on bail it will send a negative message in society and among the public who are keenly watching the verdict from this court.”
He also said that the offences send chills down the spine as to how the fourth estate has not only breached the trust of one particular individual but of the entire public.
Imran has been accused of blackmailing a woman who had been the source for a news item published by Kashmir Crown, an irregularly published weekly, on drug abuse. According to the FIR, the accused breached the woman’s trust as her wish was not to reveal her name in any news item. Unprofessionally, he not only made her visible, causing her so much stress that she thought of committing suicide, but also later sought money from her in exchange for accepting her request to remove the news item from their website and social media sites. When it did not happen, the woman filed a case against Imran and a reporter. The reporter too is behind bars.
After hearing both counsels, Judicial Magistrate Baramulla, Mansoor Ahmad Lone, remarked that no doubt the freedom of press is a constitutional guarantee placed within the Part III of the Constitution pertaining to the fundamental rights, but it does not arm and authorise a media person to misuse and exploit the “illiterate and rustic people of the country.”
He said that the allegations levelled against the accused were so heinous and serious that if discretion was exercised in his favour, surely there will be an outcry in society.
“From the totality of the circumstances and the discussion made herein above, the application in hand is bereft of any reason and the same is as such rejected. The application is accordingly disposed of,” the order, which is in possession of Kashmir Reader, reads.