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India’s Press Freedom Index Drops To A Historical Low As Journalist Fret In Kashmir



Journalist Gowhar Geelani was named in an FIR by the J&K Cyber Police for ‘‘glorifying terrorism in the valley’ while India further dropped two places on the Global Press Freedom Index – 2020. 

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This is the second such FIR against a Kashmiri journalist in the last four days. Earlier photojournalist Masrat Zahra was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA) for posting pictures on her social media account.

Gowhar Geelani is an independent reporter who previously worked for Deutsche Welle in Germany and has been published by the BBC and various other media houses.

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While it was not clear which sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were levied against Geelani, reports said these were similar to those connected with Masrat Zahra. Zahra, 26, was booked under the UAPA for indulging in “anti-national activities with criminal intentions to induce the youth” for her Facebook posts.

Geelani had earlier spoken about Masrat’s arrest to Aljazeera and said that “invoking stringent provisions of a draconian law” against Zahra “speaks volumes about the gags against media to silence journalists, to control the narratives by use of force, and to contain the Kashmir story with lawlessness”.

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The amended UAPA was passed in May 2019 and allows speedy investigation and prosecution in terror-related offenses. It also allows an individual to be designated as a terrorist, a provision that the opposition sees as dangerous.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior official said that the authorities had been “compiling information” about Geelani’s social media activity for a while now. In the official press release, the police said:’’ Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone, Srinagar, has received a message that a person namely ‘Gowhar Geelani’ is indulging in illicit activities through his posts on Social Media platform which are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country.

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The unlawful activities include glorifying terrorism in Kashmir Valley, causing disaffection against the country and causing fear or alarm in the minds of the public that may lead to the commission of offenses against public tranquillity and the security of State.’’

The statement further added that several complaints have also been received against Gowhar Geelani for ‘’threatening and intimidation.’’ “A Case FIR No. 11/2020 under the relevant sections of law has been registered at Cyber Police Station Kashmir and investigation initiated,” it said.

Journalists in Kashmir have come under scrutiny from the police in recent times. In April earlier this month, the police arrested Mushtaq Ahmed, a reporter with Kashmir Observer while he was working in Bandipora but was later released.

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A correspondent for The Hindu, Peerzada Ashiq, was summoned to the police station to seek clarification on his report. Although permitted to leave later – the Jammu and Kashmir Police questioned a story “Kin allowed to exhume bodies of militants in Baramulla” published by The Hindu on April 19 as “fake news,” the Jammu and Kashmir police registered a case against the national daily.

The Kashmir Press Club condemned the charges against Masrat Zahra and other journalists from the region and demanded intervention by India’s Home Minister Amit Shah. “It is very unfortunate that when the world is in a grip of pandemic and when we need to stand together to combat the COVID-19, police have started filing cases against journalists and harassing them,” it said.

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The global press freedom index was released amidst the arrests and bookings of Kashmiri journalists. The harassment should be no surprise since India has dropped two places on a global press freedom index to be ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters Without Borders analysis released on Tuesday.

The report attributed the decline in the index to “pressure on the media to toe the nationalist government’s line”. The “coordinated hate campaigns” waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are “alarming”.

“The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women,” it said. India’s neighbors Pakistan and China fared even worse and were ranked 145 and 177 respectively.


Indo-Pak News

India, Pakistan accuse each other of cease fire violations; targeting civilians



Pakistan says that Indian Army again resorted to ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) wounding as many as six civilians according to the military wing of Pakistan – ISPR.

The report says that Pakistan responded effectively to the Indian firing and added that the Indian Army has committed 1,643 ceasefire violations in 2020 so far.

In another tweet, the ISPR said that five civilians including an 11-year-old girl and a woman got injured due to ceasefire violation by India in Khuiratta Sector near LoC. He said that Pakistan soldiers responded effectively and targeted those Indian post which opened fire.

On June 25, the Indian army had resorted to unprovoked fire at civilian population along the LoC, leaving a woman critically injured. On June 21, one civilian was killed and two others were injured as Indian soldiers initiated a truce breach in Hajipur and Bedori sectors along LoC, says the report from Pakistan.

Earlier, Indian media reported the death of an Indian soldier who was killed in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.

“Havildar Sambur Gurung was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” Lt Col Devender Anand, defence spokesperson, said in the statement.

India recently registered a strong protest with Pakistan over more than 2,400 unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LoC) that have killed 14 Indians. “Till June this year, 14 Indian nationals have been killed and 88 more have been injured in more than 2,432 unprovoked ceasefire violations carried out by the Pakistan forces,” Indian media quoted a source.

India has consistently blamed Pakistan army of providing covering fire to help terrorists attempting to sneak across the LoC to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

As ties deteriorated between India and Pakistan after the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, soldiers from both sides have repeatedly exchanged fire and involved in cross border shelling.

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Srebrenica genocide: Pakistan draws similarity between 1995 Srebrenica massacre with Kashmir

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.



Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world community to “learn a lesson” from 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and “not let such massacre happen again.”

“Today, we are observing the 25th memorial anniversary of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. I still remember the day very well along with most people who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. we were shocked. We were appalled how in a what was a safe haven of United Nations peacekeeping forces, this massive massacre was allowed to happen.

“I still feel the shock how such a thing could have been allowed by the world community, Khan said in a video message aired by state-run Pakistan Television. “I think, It is important that we learn lessons from that, the world community must never let such things to happen again,” he went on to say.

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

“Today, 800,000 Indian troops have besieged 8 million people of Kashmir. And we all fear a similar sort of massacre might follow there,” he said, adding: “So the world community must take notice, and never allow such acts to take place there.”

Kashmir and Palestine

In a Twitter post, in connection with the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica Massacre, the murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims & ethnic cleansing of over 20’000 people. The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated.”

“What is happening in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine is chillingly similar,” he added, referring to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and New Delhi’s scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s longstanding special status in August 2019.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral services and burials.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in this year’s memorial program via video link. During a two-day visit to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo last year for a similar event, Erdogan attended a procession to commemorate thousands of innocents who fell victim to the genocide.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic — later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — overran the UN zone.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.

UK ‘stands with’ all feeling Srebrenica genocide pain

British administration on Saturday “reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting reconciliation across the Western Balkans,” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today (11 July) marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement said.

“Today I stand with all who continue to feel unimaginable pain from the genocide 25 years ago at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

“The United Kingdom has worked to support justice for the victims, find the missing & promote reconciliation,” he added.

Underlining that more than 8,000, mostly Muslim men and boys, were murdered and over 20,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from their homes, the UK urged “all parties to reject hate speech and the glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.”

The statement also said the “verdicts from international and domestic courts must be respected.” Raab said: “On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my time in the Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I was reminded daily of the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is determined to end impunity and help rebuild those countries affected – as our commitment to the ICC, and UK investment and support for Bosnia demonstrates.”

Turkey pays homage

he Turkish president on Saturday remembered the Srebrenica martyrs on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. “We will always stand by our Bosnian brothers in their search for justice. The Srebrenica Genocide will never be forgotten,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Erdogan spoke via video link at the memorial ceremony held at the former accumulator factory used by the United Nations troops as a base in the war in Bosnia.

Erdogan stressed that despite all tragedy and tears, European politicians have learned no lessons from Srebrenica Genocide, adding that free use of words that “fuel enmity towards Islam and support xenophobia is a source of concern for our future.”

“Even though it has been a quarter of a century since the genocide, our pain is still fresh. Our hearts wrenched with every mass grave unearthed,” he said. Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Srebrenica martyrs and patience to their families, their loved ones and to all who feel pain in their hearts.


By Aamir Latif, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

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Kashmir will get more affected than Tibet in India, China clash – British Author



Dragon Fire, a novel by British author Humphrey Hawksley, written 20 years ago depicted a war erupting between China, India and Pakistan, drawing many other countries and then escalating into a nuclear catastrophe.

In the wake of the recent India-China border standoff that resulted in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, Hawksley, a former BBC correspondent, said India has missed the bus to be a role model for its neighbours despite its democratic credentials. But he said that with the US alongside, India would be a formidable front to balance China’s rise.

“If China is to prevail in Asia, it needs India onside and it would not achieve that by clubbing Indian soldiers to death on a disputed border,” said the author.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency from London, Hawksley said the two countries China and India have differing capabilities. He said while China might be authoritarian, violating human rights and international law, it has shown decisive political leadership, unlike India.

“China is generations ahead beginning with basic health statistics. A newborn baby in India is three times more likely to die in its first year than it is in China. “India has failed to address its challenges of poverty, corruption, forced labour, and the rest, using its democracy as a fig leaf of an excuse,” he said.

Dragon Fire plays out a doomsday scenario with an Indian special unit invading a prison in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to free Tibetan religious leaders. As China declares war, Pakistan also launches an attack on the strategic outpost of Kargil. The war leads to the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Twenty years down the line, Hawksley said that Kashmir will get more affected than Tibet in the fight between the elephant and the dragon. While the elephant symbolizes India, the dragon is often used to describe Chinese prowess.

The author, whose recent book Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the Indo-Pacific and the Challenge to American Power discusses the US-China tensions in the South China Sea, said India appears to have little concept of regional power projection.

“It [India] failed to go after the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. It was Chinese, not Indian intervention, that killed Prabhakaran [founder of Tamil Tigers] and ended the Tigers,” he told Anadolu Agency. The former Indian prime minister was killed in 1991.

Hawksley further said while India dwells obsessively on the 1962 Sino-Indian war, it has rarely put it in context of its good relationship with the US, the simultaneous Cuban missile crisis, and China’s fear of a US nuclear strike that made Beijing withdraw.

“India is losing influence in Nepal and Bhutan which should have been within its arc of influence. It has failed to create a working regional institution out of SAARC,” he said, referring to the South Asian regional bloc.

Anadolu Agency (AA): Your novel, Dragon Fire has depicted a scenario of war between China, India, and Pakistan — all nuclear countries. What led you to depict this doomsday scenario?

Humphrey Hawksley (HH): I spent much of the 1990s covering Asia for the BBC and, amid all the stories, this common strand of China and Pakistan against India kept coming up time and time again. More than 20 years later, the same issues that sparked the fictional scenario then are sadly alive today, as with the dreadful clashes in the Galwan Valley.

 AA: Your book was published a year after the India-Pakistan limited war at Kargil in 1999. The war did not escalate into a full-fledged war. China also remained neutral and even tried to de-escalate tensions. What has changed since then?

 HH: China is now a substantive global power with a reach throughout Asia and beyond.

In that respect, Pakistan is even more reliant and entwined with China than it was even then. Kargil was one of the early examples of China and the US working together to defuse a global crisis. The India-Pakistan relationship, Kashmir, and border issues are now embedded within China’s goal of becoming the predominant Indo-Pacific power. To achieve that it needs a neutral India and a compliant Pakistan and will play its cards accordingly.

 AA: You have been accurate about the dangers faced by Asia. What is the way out, so that scenarios you have woven in your books, remain in the realm of imagination only?

 HH: The quasi-Cold War camps of the US versus China may, ironically, make the region safer. The Indian intervention in Kashmir, the Galwan Valley clash, and a myriad of other issues now have a behind the scenes constant checks and balance by outside governments that could stop the worst scenarios becoming reality. Having said that, China can turn on and off the tap of anti-Indian antagonism which it will use to leverage power. The US, meanwhile, is building a loose alliance of ‘like-minded’ governments of which India is a pivotal player. India, however, prides itself on its non-aligned status, so we will have to see how that unfolds.

 AA: I remember, when your book was released, it received praise from then Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes. He was recommending it to every visitor. Why have both countries not been able to settle their boundary dispute using a give and take formula?

HH: Good question, and one that China uses to point the finger of blame at India, saying it has amicably settled many of its border disputes, so why not with India. The Sino-Indian border will remain a disputed tinderbox while China’s strategic expansion continues at such a pace. It is gaining influence in Nepal and Bhutan. It needs to keep its grip on Tibet and Xinjiang. Aksai Chin remains symbolic of the 1962 war and so on. It could only be settled now as part of an encompassing Indo-Pacific agreement and that is not likely anytime soon.

 AA: How do you view both countries China and India, in terms of the balance of power, their capabilities and capacities both military, economic, and in terms of decisive political leadership?

 HH: There is no real comparison. China is generations ahead beginning with basic health statistics. A newborn baby in India is three times more likely to die in its first year than it is in China.  India has failed to address its challenges of poverty, corruption, forced labor, and the rest, using its democracy as a fig leaf of an excuse.

India appears to have little concept of regional power projection. It failed to go after the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

 It was Chinese, not Indian intervention, that killed Prabhakaran [founder of Tamil Tigers] and ended the Tigers. India dwells obsessively on the 1962 war with China but rarely puts it in context of its good relationship with the US, the simultaneous Cuban missile crisis and China’s fear of a nuclear US strike unless it withdrew. As mentioned, it is losing influence in Nepal and Bhutan which should be completed within its arc of influence. It has failed to create a working regional institution out of SAARC.  China, on the other hand, has been addressing head on its poverty, separatism, and power projection. It might be authoritarian, violating human rights and international law, but it is showing decisive political leadership.

 AA: Since you wrote a book, another element of the Chinese strategic parameter has been added that is the Belt and Road Initiative. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship of this project. Has it changed the strategic contours of the region?

 HH: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a global game-changer, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of its flagship projects.  When Xi Jinping platformed it at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017 it caught imaginations around the world. There is now some pushback against it, but it has already bought a range of governments into its arc of influence. Apart from the infrastructure, it is also helping to give China political influence as seen in the recent United Nations Human Rights Council vote on the new Hong Kong security laws – 53 for China, 27 against.

AA: India has been building a lot of infrastructure projects now along borders. Are they any match for China’s infrastructure?

 HH: Not really. India’s building of border infrastructure was the catalyst that sparked the Galwan Valley clash. This is different from India matching the breadth of ambition of the Belt and Road Initiative. Vision is important here. BRI symbolizes China’s wealth and pragmatism. It is not selling democracy, ideology, or religion, but roads, hospitals, and airports. As a small example, India could long ago have secured the building of a new airport in Nepal or similar in Sri Lanka. The French are building in Kathmandu, and we all know what happened in Sri Lanka. There is barely any talk about the massive Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project but much talk about the rise of Hindu nationalism, repression of Muslims, and hostilities with China and Pakistan.

 AA: While looking around South Asia, ironically many countries feel comfortable with autocratic neighbour China than democratic India. What are the reasons behind such a phenomenon?

 HH: People only have to look at China’s success against poverty and in building infrastructure to ask whether the vote is more important than having a toilet and running water. This sentiment has been compounded by the failure of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab uprisings of some 10 years ago. Add to that the controversy surrounding the election of Donald Trump and, among many Britons, leaving the European Union and a pattern emerges about the benefits of more autocratic systems of government.  Singapore is the intellectual heart of this argument. The wider Asia is a continent like none other where there is no prevailing language, the system of government, or religion. Dictatorships, military regimes, and new democracies have to live side by side. Therefore, Asia cannot afford many of the black and white political thinking of the West, summed up in the US mantra ‘you are either for us or against us.’ The Indo-Pacific is a rainbow of different shades of gray.

AA: By extending friendly hands to many countries in South Asia, China has created a diamond necklace in terms of economy and a string of pearls around India. What are the options before India?

HH: India’s best option is to contribute fully to the Quad concept comprising Australia, Japan, India, and the United States and continue reaching out to what is known as ‘like-minded’  governments, such as Vietnam, with which it is forging a close economic and strategic relationship. It would help to bear in mind the ’62 war situation.  Beijing timed the military incursion to coincide with the Cuban missile crisis because it thought President Kennedy’s concentration would be on the Caribbean. They misjudged. Kennedy offered India any help it wanted. The day before the Cuban blockade formally ended on Nov. 21, 1962, Beijing declared a cease-fire and withdrew. Beijing may have beaten India on the battlefield, but ultimately it lost because of India’s alliance with the United States.

A similar alliance now is the surest way to balance China’s expansion.

 AA: You portrayed Tibet and Kashmir as centers of upheaval. How will these regions get affected by the fight between the elephant and the dragon?

HH: They are both flashpoints, Kashmir more than Tibet because of Pakistan’s history of sponsoring insurgency there and its alliance with Beijing. The Indian-sponsored insurgency into Tibet ended in the 70s.

AA: Your book is also full of tactical details that the armies of both countries possessed in 2000. How far have these capabilities changed since then?

HH: The most relevant change would be in cyber capabilities of which China is further advanced as it is in missile capability, weapons manufacturing, and procurement. As of 2016, while writing my non-fiction Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the Indo-Pacific and the Challenge to American Power, India had 14 submarines against China’s 68, 1,488 fighter aircraft against China’s 2,615 and so on. One advantage India may have is its experience in low-insurgency warfare.

 AA: You have mentioned countries like Australia, Japan, and many others getting involved in the conflict, but not Israel, which has been a helping hand for India during its wars with Pakistan be that 1971 war or 1999 Kargil war. Will it be possible for Israel to repeat the feat, in the case of India’s war with China?

 HH: Highly likely. Israel is very much part of the ‘like-minded’ government group and is becoming a key supplier of technology-driven avionics, missile systems, and radars. Half of Israel’s defense sales now go to the Indo-Pacific. Israel has also sold to China, but this is now being tempered by the US. Even back in 2002, Israel was about to sell an early warning radar system to Beijing until the US told it to stop.

Q: From Chandigarh to Lhasa, the flight Indian commands are taking looks a straight take away from Israel’s Operation Entebbe or Operation Thunderbolt, when its defense forces rescued hostages from Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976.

HH: Interesting observation. I don’t think [I] had Entebbe in mind at all when I wrote it. It was more a straight-forward special forces operation.

AA: You have concluded that China obtained power by force, which would have taken generations to obtain through peace. But as we know that China has already attained a primary role in world politics, with the US increasingly withdrawing. Which power do you think can rise simultaneously to ensure a multipolar world?

HH: 20 years on, with much, changed, one scenario would be for the European Union to forge a cohesive enough front to become a single voice global power. Given China and Russia’s interference in European political and economic institutions, there is a growing impetus to do this. Militarily it could act in partnership with NATO which is comprised mostly of European governments. Economically, the EU is the world’s second-largest economy after China, carrying serious muscle.

With the US alongside, this would be a formidable front to balance China’s rise. India would be a natural partner which could also help guide China away from its current hardline antagonism. If China is to prevail in Asia, it needs India onside and it won’t achieve that by clubbing Indian soldiers to death on a disputed border. In that respect, things are probably different from my analysis in 1999. As an Asian power, India could now mentor China toward its survival. The alternative is that China will follow the trajectory of Japan’s rise in the 20th century and end up destroying itself because it believes it is too strong to fail. That is a catastrophe that none of us wants.

By Iftikhar Gilani

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