NIA arrests Kashmiri freelance journalist on stone pelting charges!

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Photo-cum-video journalist Kamran Yousuf

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested two alleged stone pelters including a freelance journalist for allegedly indulging in stone pelting and mobilizing support against security personnel through social media on Tuesday.

The arrested persons have been identified as Javed Ahmad Bhat from south Kashmir’s Kulgam district and Kamran Yousuf from Pulwama district, also in south Kashmir.

Kamran Yousuf, hailing from Tahab area of Pulwama, has contributed as a photo-journalist for Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Times. He is also a stringer for Gulistan News channel.

Kamran, 23, started his career when he was aged 16-17 sometime back in 2010 and has been working as a freelance photo-cum-video journalist. In a number of recent videos of militants which were widely circulated on social media, his watermarked logo had appeared, said a report. He has been accused of inciting youth to pelt stones.

Reports said Kamran was very active on social networking site, Facebook and has been arrested for uploading some provocative videos while Javed is a labourer by profession and has been accused of instigating violence through WhatsApp.

Reports said, “Though Kamran and Javed are the lowest in the pyramid but are important players being involved in incidents of stone-pelting. Kamran was not only involved but was systematically circulating videos and photos of militants to incite youth”.

Photo and video journalists of south Kashmir region held a peaceful protest outside DC Office Pulwama against the detention of Kamran Yousuf.

Journalists hold a protest in Pulwama against Kamran Yousuf's detention
Journalists held a protest in Pulwama against the detention of freelance journalist Kamran Yousuf by NIA on the charges of being a “ring leader” of stone pelting youth. “Kamran is a journalist. Not a stone pelter,” one of the banners carried by the protesting journalists reads.

The arrested duo was produced before a special NIA court in national capital on Wednesday and were subsequently handed a 10-day NIA custody.

NIA had earlier made a dossier of 100 such youth who were involved in anti-national activities and running WhatsApp Groups and Facebook Pages, inciting acts of violence against security forces.

The arrests were the first arrests made by NIA in south Kashmir, which was the epicenter of last year’s unrest in the valley after the killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016.

South Kashmir is also the hotbed of militancy. Majority of the 135 militants killed in encounters with security forces have been killed in south Kashmir comprising four districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian.

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