J&K: NIA raids NGO offices, human right activists, newspaper office in Srinagar
NIA officials said they had conducted searches at 10 locations in Srinagar and Bandipora in the Kashmir valley and one more premises in Bengaluru in connection with a case pertaining to NGOs and Trusts raising funds at home and abroad
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday had carried out raids on the offices of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), human rights activists and Greater Kashmir, a local daily, in Srinagar.
The raid was also conducted on a house in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
NIA officials said that they had conducted searches at 10 locations in Srinagar and Bandipora in the Kashmir valley and one more premises in Bengaluru in connection with a case pertaining to NGOs and Trusts raising funds at home and abroad.
The funds were allegedly raised in the name of charitable activities and subsequently used for carrying out secessionist and separatist activities in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which was declared a union territory (UT) on October 31, 2019 following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 in the same year.
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“A case was registered under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 on receipt of credible information that certain NGOs and Trusts are collecting funds at home and abroad through donations and business contributions etc; and are utilising these funds for secessionist and terrorist activities in J&K,” an NIA spokesman said.
Raids were conducted on the residence and office of Khurram Parvez, co-ordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society; his associates Parvez Ahmad Bukhari, Parvez Ahmad Matta, Swati Sheshadri; who is based in Bengaluru; Parveena Ahanger, the chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons ( APDPK), and NGO Athrout and GK Trust, among others, the spokesperson said.
“Several incriminating documents and electronic devices have been seized. Further investigation is in progress,” he added.
Bukhari, a journalist, works for a foreign news agency.
Mehbooba Mufti, former J&K chief minister and the chief of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), alleged that the NIA has emerged a “pet agency” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “to intimidate and browbeat those who refuse to fall in line”.
She alleged: “NIA raids on human rights activist Khurram Parvez and the Greater Kashmir office in Srinagar is yet another example of the government’s vicious crackdown on freedom of expression and dissent. Sadly, NIA has become BJPs pet agency to intimidate and browbeat those who refuse to fall in line.”
She alleged that at a time when J&K’s land and resources were being plundered, the government wanted media outlets to write opinion pieces about anodyne topics such as diabetes and yoga.
“In BJP’s ‘all is well’ charade, truth is the biggest casualty. Any journalist unwilling to become a part of Godi media (those who speak in favour of the ruling party or government) is targeted,” she further alleged.
Meanwhile, the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has expressed its concern over the pre-dawn NIA raids on Greater Kashmir’s premises. “Kashmir media continues to be targeted, demonised, vilified and raided by both state and non-state actors for a long time now,” KEG said in a statement condemning the raids. “This is despite the adversity of an extraordinary situation and the mounting challenges day in and day out,” it added.