Jammu & Kashmir politician Bhim Singh has sided with separatist leader Yasin Malik in the controversy surrounding a scuffle between journalists of India Today group and Malik.
India Today claimed that Yasin Malik assaulted its crew and destroyed their gadgets when they it went to get a reaction from Malik on a story that they said exposed funding of separatists by Pakistan.
“India Today reporter Kamaljit Sandhu was attacked by JKLF chief Yasin Malik today morning. Sandhu had gone to take Yasin Malik’s reaction on special investigative report – Hurriyat Truth Tapes – when Malik snatched her phone and smashed it,” the television channel said.
It also broadcast footage of the damaged smartphone and the hurt cameraman repeatedly.
It claimed that it came up with “clinching evidence of Pakistan’s state and non-state actors, including Hafiz Saeed, choreographing anarchy through their agents in the Kashmir Valley.”
“Several top Kashmiri separatists were caught on camera confessing to receiving funds from across the border.
“The investigation traces the terror funding trail. Hurriyat leader Naeem Khan stealthily travels down to Delhi to meet India Today reporters, who posed as potential funders. The investigation reveals that Pakistan’s agents who are trying to destabilise Kashmir through street violence are hidden in Delhi,” it said.
The allegations of physical abuse were denied by Malik in a press conference. Malik said
He said he was sleeping when “all of a sudden, a female TV journalist from New Delhi barged into my bedroom on the pretext of interviewing me. She had lied to my sister that she had fixed an appointment with me. The fact is she never called for an appointment.”
She immediately started recording him on her mobile phone.
“This shocked me. I objected to her behaviour. I snatched her mobile phone and asked her to leave my bedroom. She then started crying and alleging that I had manhandled her,” he told journalists.
WHO IS RIGHT?
Bhim Singh, whose family has ties with the former royal administration of Kashmir, found fault with India Today.
“Have the people in Kashmir any right to privacy as enjoyed all Indian citizens? Can a media team or a press reporter or a TV cameraman enter the house of any individual uninvited,” Singh, who is also a noted lawyer, asked.
“Can even a policeman enter a private house of a citizen of India anywhere in the country including Kashmir without any entry permit/permission of the landlord/house owner or warrants of a court? Has a person no privacy or self respect to rest in his own house or bedroom without being disturbed by an unwanted outsider?”
“No person with sense of freedom and dignity could justify this action of a camera team of ‘India Today’ which forcibly entered into the house of Yasin Malik,” he added.
Singh, a vehement critic of the state government of Jammu & Kashmir and a dogged campaigner for the abolition Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir, also opposed the language used by the television channel.
“Was it fair on the part of ‘India Today’..telling the whole world that Kashmir is difficult and ‘Kashmiries’ are not with India,” he asked. “Was it not insult to the entire people of J&K and abuse of the Fundamental Rights which are also available to the people of J&K?”
An archived video of India Today’s report on the alleged links between Pakistan and some separatist leaders is available here.