A video journalist working with a Mumbai-based news channel was detained and grilled by police after the news channel telecasted a report on the supporters of “Islamic State or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) in Kashmir early this month.
Sheikh Umar Altaf, who works with Times Now NEWS channel as stringer, was detained by police on Wednesday and Thursday.
The report ‘ISIS myth busted’ which was telecasted by the channel showed three masked boys holding a large ISIS flag at an unknown place in Old City of Srinagar. The boys had told the Times Now that they aren’t being backed by anyone and are supporting the powerful group voluntarily.
“On Tuesday evening at around 8:00 pm, I received a call from police and told me to come to Nowhatta police station. I simply told them that I will come in the morning,” Umar told GNS, adding: “On Wednesday morning, they called me again but I was on my way to Nowhatta police station.”
Umar said that he reached the police station at 10:20 and from there I was taken to Rainawari police station in police gypsy.
“The top officials were present in the police station, which started questioning me. They were asking me to reveal the names of the boys who were holding ISIS flag in the story which we ran. They humiliated, thrashed and threatened me with FIR,” he alleged.
“I simply told them that my boss, who heads the Times Now Bureau in the state, has lined up the story and I only assisted as an assistant camera man,” he said.
The video journalist alleged that the officials abused him in return. “They accused us of enacting a drama. They were forcing me to reveal the names of these boys and said it is your moral obligation to cooperate with police,” he said.
Umar further said that he was surprised at police’s behaviour. “I went there and cooperated with police but the way police humiliated me is totally disappointing,” he said.
“Throughout the day, I was kept in the custody. When I tried to call my office and other colleagues, they snatched my phone,” he said, adding at around 8:30 PM, I was allowed to go.
Umar said that next day; he was again summoned by police and was kept again in Rainawari police station. “The police threatened me with an FIR if I disclosed the whole event before media fraternity,” he said, adding the police told me that you are free now and you will not be booked in any case.
Expressing surprise, the video journalist said: “Today I was summoned by Counter-Insurgency Wing (CIK) in this regard. They questioned me in front of camera. They also told me to reveal the names of the boys and location.”
Meanwhile, police admitted that they had summoned the journalist for questioning vis-à-vis story on ISIS supporters.
“Yes, we summoned the video journalist for questioning. But, we didn’t detain him,” Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Amit Kumar, said.
The SSP denied the allegations levelled by the scribe and said: “We didn’t ask him to reveal the names of boys neither had we harassed him. We already know their names,” he said.
The top official, however, said that if need arises, the scribe would be again summoned. “If we found him involved, we will summon him again,” he said.
The SSP informed that so far no one has been arrested by police over the waving of ISIS flags in summer capital.
In July this year, when Israeli military launched attacks on besieged Gaza, massive anti-Israeli protests broke out in Kashmir. On July 11, hundreds of people staged protests outside Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta during which a black flag of Islamic State was waved by masked youths and it was for the first time that such flag appeared in conflict torn Kashmir region.
Though there was no official reaction at that time but after flags again appeared in the area as well as in Lal Chowk, the city centre, the army termed it a concern.
It was on Eid Day, when nearly a dozen flags of Islamic State, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Taliban and Al Qaeda appeared in Eidgah during anti-India and anti-Israel protests. The pictures and videos of masked youth holding three large black flags of ISIS and Al Qaeda, made headlines in several National as well as in International media outlets.
Following the big development, police, according to officials, started questioning youths. A report published on the website of a New Delhi based news channel said police have identified 50 ‘supporters’ of the group.