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‘Real reporter’ should cover govt’s development activities:NIA

New Delhi, Feb 16: A “real journalist” should cover development activities by the government, inaugurations of hospitals and schools, and statements of ruling parties, suggests a chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency in January. The agency cited the lack of these to say that Kamran Yusuf of the Kashmir Valley was not a “real journalist”, The Indian Express reported on Friday.
Kamran Yusuf, a 24-year-old freelance photojournalist, was arrested in September 2017 for his alleged involvement in “stone-pelting incidents”. He has been in police custody ever since. The NIA filed the chargesheet on January 18 against 12 people, including Yusuf, and produced the chargesheet in court on Thursday during the hearing of his bail petition.
Yusuf had sought relief saying he was present at stone-pelting sites merely because he was covering those incidents, PTI reported. The NIA has alleged he was acting as a conduit for those involved in terror funding.
“Had he been a real journalist or stringer by profession, he may have performed one of the moral duty [sic] of a journalist, which is to cover the activities and happening [good or bad] in his jurisdiction,” the chargesheet read. “He had never covered any developmental activity of any government department/agency, any inauguration of hospital, school building, road, bridge, statement of political party in power or any other social/developmental activity by state government or government of India.”
The chargesheet also said Yusuf had the intention to cover only “anti-national” activities and earn money through this, as he had “hardly taken any video” of social work done by the Army in Kashmir Valley. The NIA also said Yusuf was not a professional as he had not got training from any institute.
Yusuf’s counsel called the chargesheet an “abuse of the process of law”. “There is nothing in the chargesheet against my client,” she said, according to PTI. “It only claims that he was in contact with other journalists but does not show any conspiracy with the other co-accused in the case. They are trying to gag the media through his custody. Now NIA is trying to teach what journalism means.”
Yusuf’s lawyer also said he had clicked many pictures that satisfy the NIA’s definition of a “real journalist”. The court will next hear the petition on February 19.
The charge sheet also mentions social work by the Army and Para-military forces in the Valley such as organising “blood-donation camps, free medical check-up, skill development program or Iftiar party” among others. “Kamran Yusuf had hardly taken any video of such activity and video or image of any such activity can rarely be seen in his laptop or mobile which clearly show his intention to only cover the activities which are anti-national and earn money against such footages,” said the charge sheet.
The report further says that according to the NIA, Yusuf was not a “professional” because he did not receive training from any institute. The NIA, after scrutinising the videos in his camera, observed that the video has been taken with a particular intention to cover “anti-national activities” and then provide the same to “local media” for publication.
During bail arguments, Yusuf’s counsel WarishaFarasat submitted to the court that despite NIA defining a “real journalist”, Yusuf had fulfilled all the criteria listed. “We have many pictures to show that Kamran falls under their definition, reported The Indian Express.