A 24-year-old Kashmiri youth was thrashed by a mob near Hindustan Aeronautics Limited headquarters in southeast Bengaluru on March 20. The incident was reported by a journalist, Fawad Shah, on his Twitter handle.
The tweet read: “Absar Zahoor Dhar, 24-yr-old Kashmiri student, has been beaten up in Bengaluru. Dhar, who funds his studies by modelling, says, “They could have killed me. I’m living in fear, not attending college as the assailants roam free in front of my house as if nothing happened.”
A day later, an IPS officer, Abdul Ahad, replied to Fawad Shah on his tweet, and warned him against “discussing a subject of investigation in public domain” and “this illegal behaviour”. The IPS officer also accused the journalist of “instigating people”.
Abdul Ahad’s reply to Fawad Shah read: “Mr Fahad Shah, you are discussing a subject of investigation in public domain which is an offence. Four culprits have been arrested and 107 CrPC proceedings are underway. You are warned against this illegal behaviour.”
Mr Fahad Shah Ur discussing a subject of investigation in public domain which is an offence,4 culprits have been arrested and 107 CrPC proceedings on…Ur warned against this illegal behaviour.
Abdul Ahad IPS (@dcpwhitefield) March 24, 2019
Fawad Shah responded to the IPS officer’s tweet and pointed out that his tweet on an assault on a Kashmiri youth was already in the public domain and was neither a discussion nor an opinion.
Fawad Shah said what he tweeted (which was not a discussion or an opinion) was already published in a newspaper. “Perhaps it should be found what’s already in public domain,” he said.
As much as I have tweeted here (which is not a discussion or an opinion) was already published in newspaper – perhaps it should be found what’s already in public domain. Thanks.
Fahad Shah (@pzfahad) March 24, 2019
To this, the IPS officer told him that he would be asked to explain by an investigation officer and ensure that he was not “instigating people”.
“You will be asked to explain…you can give your clarification to the investigating officer. As a law-abiding citizen, I am sure you will explain your stand to the satisfaction of the investigating officer and make sure that you were not instigating people. It’s a serious offence,” he said.
U will be asked to explain…u can give Ur clarification to the investigating officer..as a law abiding citizen IAM sure u will explain Ur stand to the satisfaction of investigating officer…and make sure that Ur not instigating people….it’s a serious offence
Abdul Ahad IPS (@dcpwhitefield) March 24, 2019
Fawad Shah told IndiaToday.in that, he only shared a fact and his tweet was in no way provocation or instigation.
“The officer is wrong as my tweet in no way is provocative or instigation. It is already in news and I only shared a fact. It seems the officer didn’t like that this incident was getting too much attention on social media and he thinks my tweet added to that – but unfortunate that a senior official, who knows the job of a journalist, threatened me,” he said.
Silence journalists is violation of right to free expression: Amnesty India
Amnesty India slammed the IPS officer for warning a jornalist for his tweet on the Kashmiri youth, saying that threatening arrest or silencing a journalist is a violation of a right to free expression.
“Talking about an assault is not a crime. But police threats to arrest and silence a journalist is a violation of the right to free expression,” Amnesty India tweeted.
Amnesty India (@AIIndia) March 25, 2019
The IPS officer’s response to the journalist has drawn criticism on social media. Many public figures pointed out that sharing a piece of news on an assault was not illegal.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi responded to the IPS officer in the same thread of tweets and said, “Remember you are bound by the Constitution of India. Let me refresh your memory, Freedom of Expression is still a Fundamental Right which NO DCP can take it from any Indian.”
Muhtaram,Aali Janab ,Your Excellency of course you can arrest,jail you have all the Taqaat remember you are bound by Constitution of INDIA ,let me refresh your memory Freedom of Expression is still a Fundamental Right which NO DCP can take it from any Indian Samjha
Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 25, 2019
Are you threatening him, sir? Because it sure sounds like that. The cops exist to protect us and not to intimidate us. Also, will you threaten me with arrest now since I’m tweeting this, and call it preventing a public servant from lawfully performing his official duty, eh?
Vaibhav Vishal (@ofnosurnamefame) March 25, 2019