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J&K cops recover US dollars, roubles in raids on 4 scribes over threat to 22 journalists 

Representational image. Jammu and Kashmir Police conducted raids on the residences journalists and an advocate on Thursday in connection with the terror threat to mediapersons (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

The Jammu and Kashmir Police conducted raids on the residences of four more journalists, one Vlogger and one more advocate on Thursday in connection with the terror threat to 22 Srinagar-based mediapersons.

“During search, all the legal formalities and SOPs were followed professionally and incriminating materials including mobiles, computers, laptops, pendrives, simcards, Jihadi literature, banking documents, dummy gun, US & Russian currency notes were recovered and seized by the respective teams. The investigation in the instant case is going on vigorously and is in an advanced stage”, a J&K police said in a press release.

“The premises which were raided today and subsequently searched belong to Showkat Mota in Srinagar, Khaksar Nadeeb Adnan in Srinagar, Haji Hayat in Pampore, Haji Hayat’s Office in Srinagar, Ishfaq Reshi in Budgam, Asif Dar (based abroad) and Saqib Magloo in Srinagar. Some among above mentioned suspects have been detained for questioning, however, those on whose houses searches were carried earlier are being summoned on daily basis for examination”, the Police press release added further.

With Thursday’s raids, residences of 18 suspects, including 9 active journalists and 4 advocates, have been searched by the police which claimed to have seized incriminating material at several places.

In the first round on 19 November, police had searched the residences of 6 journalists, one journalist-turned-terrorist, three advocates and two terrorists.

The crackdown has been launched after The Resistant Front (TRF), which according to the police is a front for the Pakistan-based global terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, issued death threats to 22 Kashmiri journalists calling them “paid agents, traitors and collaborators” of the Indian security and intelligence agencies.

“Apropos to our earlier press note dated 19/11/2022 regarding searches conducted by Srinagar Police in valley in connection with case pertaining to online threats to scribes, police today again carried out raids at 7 locations in Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama”, reads a Police press release. “It is further informed that, during the course of investigation and on the basis of vital leads obtained from earlier searches dated 19/11/2022, today the special teams carried out simultaneous searches at seven locations in Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama Districts”, the police statement added.

Sources associated with the search operation said that Thursday’s raids were carried out in Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama districts. They said that the residence and office of the English language daily ‘Kashmir Reader’ Haji Hayat Bhat were raided at Pampore and Srinagar respectively.

The ‘suspects’ whose residences were searched on Thursday also included journalists Ishfaq Rishi of Poshkar Khag, Budgam, and Saqib Mugloo of Lal Bazar, Srinagar. Journalist-turned-businessman Showkat Mota’s house was searched at Botshah Mohalla, Lal Bazar. While the house of advocate Adnan Bashir was raided at Nowgam, Srinagar, Vlogger-doctor Asif Maqbool Dar’s residence was searched in Higher Income Group (HIG) Colony of Bemina, Srinagar.

Dar, a resident of Baramulla’s Sangrama area, has been issuing incriminating Vlogs against India, Indian security forces, Police and different civilian soft targets of terrorists while operating from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He has travelled to the two countries on an Indian Passport which has not been suspended. Sources said that IGP Kashmir had initiated the process of seeking Asif Dar’s deportation but, according to senior journalist Praveen Swami, it remained pending with J&K Police headquarters for a long time and was not taken to a logical conclusion.

TRF has issued fresh threats to the Kashmiri journalists two years after similar threats had been issued through the terror blog ‘KashmirFight’ to around 40 mediapersons. In 2018, similar threats had been issued to a number of Srinagar-based journalists following the senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination in the Srinagar Press Enclave.

In almost all the previous cases, Police have simply registered FIRs against anonymous persons. However, this is for the first time since the eruption of insurgency in 1989 that the Police have raided the residences and offices of around a dozen journalists who are suspected of being linked to TRF/LeT through a network of local contacts.

Journalists Gowhar Geelani and Masrat Zehra have been booked in two FIRs under UAPA but neither of them has been arrested. Zehra was even permitted to proceed to Germany and the United States of America on an Indian Passport to pursue her fellowships. At least 5 Kashmiri journalists have resigned from their positions in the most targeted newspapers, Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir, after they received online threats from TRF last week.