Journalists in Kashmir have frequently faced life threats and at least 20 of them have been killed since the 1990s. The fresh intimidation tactics from terror group The Resistance Front (TRF), an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), recently created more tension among journalists in the Valley.
The threat letters naming journalists are nothing but an effort to stop media houses from reporting facts in Kashmir, intelligence sources have told CNN-News18.
These media houses are asked not to report stories of national interest about the patriotic feelings of local Kashmiris, they said.
This year, newspapers in Kashmir were flooded with the stories about hoisting of tricolours across the region, which again was only what was happening in the Valley.
Social media also remained abuzz with videos showing children singing the national anthem, and participating in Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The current happenings on the ground don’t suit some people, said the intelligence sources.
They dislike what is happening on the ground like the hoisting of tricolours, and thousands of people participating in political rallies, added the officials.
To stop these things, Pakistan’s spy agency ISI decided to target journalists in Kashmir so that they stop reporting facts, said the sources.
A blog operating from Pakistan runs smear campaigns against various journalists and activists based in Kashmir. After investigations, it is clear that terrorist Mukhtar Baba runs the blog.
A former resident of Srinagar, Mukhtar Baba has never been an active journalist but was a receptionist. Later, he started a public relations (PR) agency ‘Kashmir Media PR and Kashmir Events’, but it flopped. Then, he started a news portal with another journalist.
In this venture, he carried out a smear campaign against J&K Bank after not getting advertisements from the financial institution.
Mukhtar Baba was a member of Hezbollah in the 1990s.
He sold AK assault rifles to rival terror groups and was thrown out unceremoniously.
He joined Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam in 2010 with a pivotal role in the 2010 summer agitation.
Baba married twice and divorced both women. With his first wife, he has two daughters.
Since 2017, he had been gathering journalists at restaurants in the evening. He would preach to them about “azadi”.
In an assessment by intelligence agencies, Turkey has given shelter to these disgruntled journalists on behalf of ISI.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to create a Muslim world for his political gain and for that he is associating with many Muslim countries including Pakistan, said the sources.
For this, they have allegedly hired many Kashmir-based journalists and individuals who are creating tensions and running news portals.
In the recent past, Mukhtar Baba has made more than ten trips to Pakistan from Turkey.
Turkey suits the ISI, as it is easy to disown its activities and operate in a European environment, said the sources. The Turkish president is losing hold on politics domestically and is looking outside to gain superpower status, they added.
The country’s economy is in a very bad state but Erdogan is creating tensions with all his foreign allies, said officials.
“Qatar and Turkey have a shared ideology in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups like Hamas. And recently we have seen Qatar inviting Zakir Naik to the FIFA World Cup," said an official.
Erdogan says Muslims look for solutions in Western capitals for their problems, instead of reaching out to their Muslim brothers and sisters for help. He has been trying to revive support in the form of the Muslim ummah, and Islamic states like Pakistan and Malaysia have actively supported it.
At the UN General Assembly in 2019, Erdogan raked up Kashmir and criticised the international community for not paying attention to the issue. This speech came just a month after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status (Article 370) in August 2019.
Ankara has given special facilities to Kashmiri Muslim students for admission to professional institutes. The daughter of the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani is running a website from Ankara which propagates vicious anti-India and anti-Hindu broadcasts.
Many Kashmiri students have joined educational institutions in Ankara, and they are approached by ISI agents and brainwashed, said sources.
Top intelligence sources say it is important for these groups to keep on reviving the Kashmir issue so that they can play around with it and it suits Pakistan also that they are not caught.
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