August 15, 2019 / 4:31 PM / 2 days ago

Indian troops detain Kashmiri journalist

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Indian troops detained a Kashmiri reporter working for a local newspaper in an overnight raid at his house in the Tral area of Southern Pulwama district, his family said on Thursday.

Indian security force personnel patrol a road during restrictions after the government scrapped the special constitutional status for Kashmir, in Srinagar August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

Irfan Ahmad Malik, 28, works for Greater Kashmir, the largest circulation daily newspaper in the Kashmir valley. It was not immediately clear why he had been detained.

The arrest comes as the Kashmir region remains under a clampdown by the Indian army and police, including the blacking out of phone and internet connections, in lockstep with the Indian government’s announcement on Aug. 5 that it was taking away special status from Jammu and Kashmir state.

“The troops jumped over the compound wall of our house last night at around 11:30 p.m.,” said Malik’s father, Mohammad Amin Malik, 57.

“We were asleep, they knocked at the door. We opened the door and troops asked for Irfan. He was taken along. We asked for reasons behind his arrest, they decline to say anything,” he said.

A spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir government, Rohit Kansal, told Reuters that he would seek information about the arrest.

“I just heard about the incident. We are trying to verify it. We will collect details and look into it. As of now we have no information,” he said.

More than 500 local leaders and activists have been detained in the past 12 days of the crackdown.

Malik had worked for the paper for the past three years in the restive town of Tral, which is a hotbed of militancy in a decades-old Kashmiri separatist movement.

Malik’s father said he was told by an officer at the Awantipora police station on Thursday morning that there were “orders from the top” to arrest his son but the local police did not know the reason. They declined to release him.

Wiping away her tears, Malik’s mother, Haseena, told Reuters: “We curse the day he chose to become a journalist.”

Both parents spoke to Reuters in Srinagar, where they were hoping to see officials to plead for their son’s release.

India’s move this month tightened New Delhi’s grasp over the country’s only Muslim-majority region. It means that non-residents will no longer be banned from buying property in the state and state government jobs will no longer be reserved for residents.

Editing by Martin Howell and Frances Kerry

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