SRINAGAR: A journalist working for a news portal has accused the cyber police in Kashmir of assaulting and harassing him over a story he had filed about alleged intimidation of social media users critical of the government by the police.
The cyber police, however, refuted the accusations as "misleading and factually incorrect".
Journalist Auqib Javaid alleged that he was slapped twice by a masked cop at the Cyber Police Station, where he was summoned in connection with his story.
The story was published by news portal 'Article14', and it carried a quote of the Superintendent of Police of the Cyber Wing, Tahir Ashraf Bhatii, Javaid said.
"As we entered the Cargo Centre, our phones were taken.
We were frisked and allowed in...I was now anxious. I could feel something was wrong. As I started walking inside the corridor, my heart beat faster," he wrote in a first person account published by 'Article14'.
Javaid said when he was waiting outside the SP's office as the cop accompanying him had gone inside, someone approached him from behind and slapped him.
"I heard the sounds of boots approaching, and as I turned to see who it was, a masked policeman slapped me hard on my left cheek. He did sound like a local. 'Kis liye aaya hai tu (why have you come?),' he demanded. Once I recovered from the shock of the slap, I said, 'SP saab has called me'. He slapped me hard again and left," Javaid alleged.
"I somehow and vaguely rationalised this assault as the cost of doing journalism in Kashmir. I was not the first to be intimidated. Others have had cases filed against them," he wrote.
Javaid said he wanted to know under what law he was summoned by the SP of Cyber Police and verbally abused and slapped by the cops.
"I am uncertain about what will happen. I write this in great fear. I could be called in again, beaten or worse. Anything is possible in Kashmir. But I am certain about one thing: I stand by my story," he said.
The cyber police issued a statement refuting the allegations made by the journalist, but admitted that he had been called to the cyber wing.
"On 17.09.2020, it was reliably learnt that one story captioned 'The real Cyber Bully: Police in Kashmir Question Kashmir Twitter' was published on Article-14, an online news portal. In the story, the writer had depicted a misleading picture with incorrect detail. The headline and the picture (of the cyber police) with some of the content were factually incorrect, hence misleading," the statement reads.
It further said the journalist admitted that he had no knowledge about the functioning and establishment of the Cyber Police Station in Kashmir and "regretted for publishing incorrect/misleading content".
"The allegation of excesses by police officials/officer published subsequently by 'Article-14' and other social media handle are misleading and factually incorrect, hence refuted," the statement added.