Srinagar: A recent report by BBC on the political landscape in Kashmir has ignited a heated debate in India, with political parties and experts taking opposing stances on the issue. The controversy deepened as the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police decided to hand over a 'False Reporting' case against BBC to the Special Investigation Agency (SIA) Unit. Controversy erupted after BBC's report “Any story could be your last - India’s crackdown on Kashmir Press” was published on September 1 where it was alleged that there was a crackdown on press in the valley.

Political experts and leaders have expressed their divergent opinions on the matter, highlighting the complex interplay between journalism, national security, and freedom of expression.

JDU Leader Supports Police Action: Upholds Rule of Law

Janata Dal (United) (JDU) leader GM Shaheen commended the J&K Police's decision, asserting that nobody should be above the law. He emphasised that those who jeopardize the sovereignty of the nation must face the consequences of their actions. The JDU leader accused the BBC of bias and claimed that the organization was working in favour of the Hurriyat in Kashmir.

BJP Criticises BBC: Labels It One-Sided and 'Boring Broadcast Channel'

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sajid Yousuf also took a critical stance on BBC's reporting, dubbing the organisation as "One-sided" and even coining the acronym 'Boring Broadcast Channel.' They raised questions about BBC's reporting practices, suggesting a lack of impartiality in their coverage. BJP representatives also pointed out that BBC had not reported on similar issues in Pakistan, where journalists had faced violence.

Aam Aadmi Party Supports BBC Reporting: Defends Freedom of the Press

In contrast, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Hakeem Rizwan backed BBC's reporting and expressed concerns about curbing the voices of journalists. They emphasised the importance of a free press in a democracy and urged the decentralisation of power, both within the democratic system and among journalists.

J&K Police Issues Statement On BBC Article

"J&K Police strongly objects to an article published by the BBC on 1 September 2023, “Any story could be your last - India’s crackdown on Kashmir Press” by Yogita Limaye. The article unfairly castigates efforts of J&K Police in maintaining law and order and security in J&K as biased against journalists. J&K Police maintains the highest standards of professionalism and functions squarely within the ambit of the law. It is pertinent to mention that one of the cases mentioned in the article - that of Fahad Shah is one where a trial is already on going against the accused Fahad Shah and the court has already framed charges against him under the UAPA for providing terror sympathisers a platform for advocating terrorism through publishing inflammatory and secessionist articles on its online magazine Kashmir Walla. While the actions of J&K Police have stood the test of law and judiciary and changed the security environment in the UT immensely, the article of the author Ms Limaye follows an unabashedly biased line referring to UT of Jammu and Kashmir as India Occupied Kashmir, placing quotes of unidentified journalists in her article to bolster her non-existent claims of state overreach against journalists and mentioning instances without particulars of date and place. J&K Police condemns the attempt of a media house such as the BBC to misrepresent the conditions in J&K in which the J&K Police has stood firmly on the front lines in the war against terror and lost thousands of its bravest men in an attempt to safeguard the people of J&K.

SIA J&K Police which is the investigating agency in the Fahad Shah case reserves the right to initiate further legal action against the media house for misreporting facts in a case which is sub judice."