In what was the second attack targeting Fahad Shah in a matter of weeks, a teargas shell was thrown into the home of his living room on the night of 8 July, starting a fire that was quickly put out. Witnesses said members of the armed forces or the Jammu and Kashmir security forces were responsible. A paramilitary group vandalized Shah’s car a month ago.
The founder and editor of the Kashmir Walla news website, Shah is convinced that the attacks were not random.
“Working as a journalist was never easy in Kashmir, and now with each passing day it seems more difficult,” he said. “There are different pressures and threats (…) now you don’t just get trolled on social media.”
In June 2017, Shah was arrested by the local police and was questioned for several hours about his reporting. In his Kashmir Walla articles, he often writes about censorship of dissidents and about the consequences and victims of the region’s armed conflict.
“We firmly condemn this new attack on the journalist Fahad Shah and we urge the local authorities to conduct an independent investigation in order to identify those responsible,” RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said. “Everything possible must be done to guarantee the safety of journalists and stop the attempts to intimidate them.”
Recent victims of the violence in Jammu and Kashmir include Shujaat Bukhari, a well-known Kashmiri journalist who was gunned down by unknown gunmen in Srinagar on 14 June.
All of India, not just the Kashmir Valley, has been hit by a surge of violence against journalists. Four journalists have been killed in India so far this year, prompting RSF to issue its first Incident Report on freedom of the press in India on 4 July.
India is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, two places lower than last year.