J&K Police stops Kashmir journalists from attending Hurriyat ‘press conference’

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Srinagar: Security personnel deployed outside incarcerated separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s residence in Srinagar Wednesday barred journalists from attending a press conference called by the former. Nearly 35 reporters and photographers had arrived in front of Geelani’s Hyderpora residence after they received an “official” email from his All Parties Hurriyat Conference Tuesday evening inviting them for the press conference.

Prior to this, no separatist leader had made an attempt to speak to the media since the 5 August abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The media personnel, who reached the venue around 10.30 am, were asked to disperse from the locality immediately as the police cited imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC (banning unlawful assembly) in the area.

“You are in violation of Section 144. We cannot allow media personnel to enter the residence or wait in areas nearby,” said a police officer posted outside Geelani’s residence in Hyderpora locality of Srinagar.

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Police to probe how Geelani sent invite

The senior separatist leader has been under house arrest for years now and have only been allowed to move out of his residence on a few occasions with prior permission. On Tuesday evening, journalists in the Valley received an official email from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference requesting them to attend a press meeting at 11.30 am Wednesday.

The J&K Police said it would investigate how Geelani managed to send the email invite amid complete internet shutdown in the Valley. “We will look into the matter,” said an officer when the mediapersons told them about the press invite they had received.

A senior police officer, who arrived at the spot later, also requested the reporters to leave. “The directions under Section 144 are clear, no assembly of people can be allowed,” he said.

When told that curfew passes issued by the state administration allowed media personnel to remain in the area, the officer said, “Specific directions have been issued by the district magistrate for areas such as Hyderpora.”

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