• April 27, 2020

A statement has been issued on behalf of gender rights activists, organisations and individuals condemning the UAPA charges against Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra. The statement strongly reiterates that the government must withdraw UAPA charges against Masrat. It also highlights the increasing difficulties that journalists in Kashmir are facing and call on the government to stop the witch-hunting of Muslim activists and scholars. The statement has 449 signatories and is attached at the end.



We, gender rights activists, organizations, and individuals, are appalled to hear about charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) being invoked against Masrat Zahra, a young photojournalist from Kashmir.


An FIR has been registered against Masrat under the UAPA for allegedly “uploading anti-national posts with criminal intention to induce the youth and to promote offenses against public tranquillity” and for “uploading posts that tantamount to glorify the anti-national activities and dent the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing disaffection against the country.”  Masrat’s social media accounts merely document everyday on-goings in Kashmir, a part of her duties and responsibilities as a journalist.  In light of this, it is particularly shocking that the FIR speaks of her as a Facebook “user”, completely washing over her credentials as a journalist, in whose line of duty the impugned photographs were taken. Masrat’s photos do not in any way suggest any anti-national content.


The use of an anti-terrorism law to quell the voices of reporters going about their jobs of reporting the realities on the ground rings a death knell for the last vestiges of a democratic future of this country. Already a draconian law, the UAPA was further amended in August last year, enabling the state to designate individuals as “terrorists” without requiring to provide further substantiation, and has been repeatedly misused to target dissenting voices.


Women in highly militarized zones, such as Kashmir, have unique battles, struggles, and stories owing to living lives under the high handedness of a heavily militarized regime. In addition to systematic incidences of gender-based and sexual violence against women by armed forces, which have been documented by different human rights groups, women from the valley are faced with other unique challenges. They bear the brunt of reduced access to public services and places, increasing policing of their movements and sexuality and gender-specific intimidation owing to the mass presence of armed forces and the impunity for any crimes committed. All these different hues of stories of women ought to be told.


Fearless in the face of extreme hardships and intimidation, Masrat and other women journalists and photojournalists from Kashmir have been at the forefront of bringing these stories to public records. She brought forth the stories of women and stories of everyday violence from women’s perspective. Her work has been published in both reputable national and international spaces and has garnered the praise of national and international audiences alike. The valley has a handful of working women journalists and using arbitrary power against one causes apprehensions and signals threat to others in the field.


We will not stand by as state machineries hound her for telling stories of pain and distress suffered by women in Kashmir under extreme militarization, which the state would rather have suppressed.


Since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, journalists in Kashmir have been operating under heavy scrutiny, surveillance, and a threat to physical integrity, while having to report from government-designated media facilitation center. Journalist bodies everywhere have condemned the plight through which journalists in Kashmir are being put through and have repeatedly petitioned the government to allow freedom of speech and expression, the cornerstone of a democracy, to be restored and safeguarded in Kashmir. However, this has not found much favour with the authorities. The charges against Masrat and other journalists such Asif Sultan,  Peerzada Ashiq, and GowharGeelani add yet another nail to the coffin of a free press in Kashmir. Apart from getting charged under various sections of IPC, several other journalists have time and again attempted to draw attention to the growing police assaults, with the most recent one being an assault on a local freelance journalist, GowharWani on April 15.


These charges come in the backdrop of the ongoing large scale witch-hunt by the state of Muslim scholar-activists who have been at the forefront of a movement to save democratic ideals of India. We strongly condemn the unleashing of the state’s harshest criminal law provisions against voices that refuse to tow the state line at the cost of great personal risk. It is particularly shocking that the government is choosing to hound activists during such a nationally trying time as the current crisis of Covid-19.


We once again call on the government to find non-authoritarian ways to understand and engage with the growing dissent against state actions in the country, rather than muzzling dissent and using penal powers and state machinery to criminalize individuals.


We, therefore, call upon the cybercrime cell of J&K to:


  • Withdraw the preposterous and far-fetched charges under UAPA against Masrat Zahra.
  • Withdraw similar charges under other criminal provisions against other Kashmiri journalists.


We call upon the Government of India to:


  • Stop the witch-hunting of dissenting activists and scholars in India.
  • Safeguard the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression for all persons.


1. Gurpreet Kaur Researcher, Delhi
2. AK Dave LABIA queer administrative collective
3. Tanvi Founder, Volunteers Collective
4. Anatya Engineer
5. Varna Personal
6. Ditilekha Feminist Researcher
7. Rukmini University of Huddersfield
8. Aditi Researcher, Mumbai
9. Gokul KP Graduate
10. RajniPalriwala University of Delhi
11. Navsharan Singh Researcher activist Delhi
12. Amrita arya IIT kanpur
13. Ajit Singh Yadav Political Activist
14. Aiman Khan Quill Foundation
15. Sharanya Deepak Independent Writer and Journalist
16. SibiArasu Independent journalist
17. Vasundhra Independent
18. Shreshtha Das Gender and Sexuality Rights Activist, Delhi
19. R Roy Lawyer, Delhi
20. Dr.Aijaz Ahmad sonzal welfare trust
21. Nisha Biswas Feminists in Resistance
22. Veena P Citizen
23. ShatakshiGawade Freelance writer and journalist
24. ShambhaviSaxena LGBTQ Rights Advocate
25. NandiniDhar OP Jindal Global University
26. Stuti Shah Lawyer
27. PradyumanKaistha Lawyer, Delhi
28. Zainab R. Haque JamiaMilliaIslamia
29. Ashish sahoo Artist
30. SourodiptoSanyal Independent Journalist
31. VinayaKurtkoti None (Independent Journalist)
32. UtsaSarmin Calcutta Research Group
33. Akash Joshi Independent
34. Vishnu Law/Legal
35. Liliana ilGraziosco Merlo Turan Bangalore
36. AnkitaAnand Independent journalist
37. Sandhya P.P Kerala
38. Siddhant Sarin Citizen
39. Simona Sawhney New Delhi
40. Shoaib Khan Lawyer- Chevening Scholar- London/Kashmir
41. Amir Malik Independent Journalist
42. Pooja Das Individual
43. Daimabhat VBM
44. Faryal No affiliation
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47. NavinaLamba Student, Ambedkar University Delhi
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52. Siddharthgoyal None
53. Sumeet Agarwal IIT Delhi
54. Vani Tripathi Individual
55. Danish Tariq Media
56. AdilMehraj Ordinary citizen
57. Pallavi Gauri Dehari Law Student
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59. kabi FAOW, PUCL
60. DarabBakhshi Kashmir Women’s Collective
61. Amina Mir University of Westminster
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63. Akash Bhattacharya Azim Premji University
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69. Zara Bakshi
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71. Minakshi Journalist
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73. KoelChatterji Entrepreneur & Social Activist
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78. Jhelum Roy Researcher, Jadavpur University
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91. Sujata Patel SavitribaiPhule Pune University
92. Debojit Dutta Founde/Editor at Antiserious
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96. Prabhakar Student
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98. Subhashini Ali All India democratic womens Association
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100. Kavya DU
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102. Ankit Student
103. Adv Ashok Agarwal Lawyer
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106. Gertrude Lamare London School of Economics and Political Science
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108. seema MP MahilaManch
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110. PushpaSundar Independent scholar
111. Ganesh Individual
112. Rayan Naqash Journalist
113. Ganesh ROSA
114. Sukanya Deepak Student, Graphic Design and Design Research
115. BenuMohanlal Delhi University
116. Pamela Philipose Journalist
117. HarisjeelaniToogo Freelance multimedia Journalist
118. NavdeepMathur IIM Ahmedabad
119. TabeenahAnjum Journalist
120. Kumar Rahul Delhi University
121. Vishal Delhi University
122. KartikeyaBhatotia Alumnus, Ashoka University
123. AbrarRasool Dar None
125. Syed AjazMumtaz None
126. K.B.Hina PragatisheelMahilaSangathan
127. MohdAbuzar Anhad
128. TarunSagar Anhad India
129. Chahna Gupta DwarkaEkSath
130. J.N.Mahto Samajwadi Jan Parishad
131. Radhika Radhakrishnan Researcher
132. VasudhaRajkumar Sciences Po, Paris
133. Ayesha Kidwai Jawaharlal Nehru University
134. Priya Sen Independent filmmaker
135. Ammu Abraham Women’s rights and Civil liberties activist
136. Ali SafeerFarooqi Lawyer
137. Aliya Khan I am against the UAPA
138. IlavarasiDuraimanickam Sciences Po
139. SaleemNooruddin Self employment
140. sandhyagokhale Forum Against Oppression of women
141. Fatima Babu Human Rights defender
142. Amrita Activist and social worker/ researcher
143. Zeb Azam None
144. Waqas Farooq Kuttay JamiaMilliaIslamia University
145. Abhishek Mukhopadhyay None
146. Maansi Shah CEPT University
147. Asad Tariq MA, JMI
148. RohiniKandhari None
149. Vivekananda Artist
150. Sanjaya Kumar Bohidar Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi
151. Amit Bhatt Media and Communication
152. IshaniCordeiro Human rights activist
153. Divesh Pandey Ashoka University
154. induprakashsingh Forum Against Corruption & Threats (FACT)
155. Dev Desai Social activist
156. Shahnawaz Akhtar eNewsroom India
157. SHAHRUKH ALI KHAN Pioneer Services
158. Bobby Naqvi Journalist
159. VaibhavVaish IISER Mohali
160. Fabitha IIT Maadras
161. Anuradha Development Professional
162. AravindUnni National Coalition for Inclusive & Sustainable Urbanisation (NCU)
163. AdhirajMukerji Individual
164. Ishan Mehandru Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality، Ashoka University
165. Avipsha Das Sociologist and Independent Filmmaker
166. DipanjanaSaha Individual
167. Kumar Kirti Student
168. Arshie Qureshi Kashmir Women’s Collective
169. Shivani SP Concerned Citizen
170. Nandini Rao WSS
171. Ronak M Soni Stanford University
172. Bhamati Filmmaker
173. Jeyaraman Human Rights defender
174. Henri Tiphagne Human Rights Defenders Alert – India ( HRDA)
175. Payal S Freelancer
176. MANUJ MUKHERJEE Individual
177. Kumar Independent
178. Nirbhay IIT Bombay
179. Samer AFZAL Indian Alliance Paris
180. Priya Endorsed
181. SaahilKejriwal India Development Review
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183. M. Jeyakumar People’s Watch
184. RamyaMaddali In individual capacity
185. Dhruv SHARMA ÉcoleNormaleSupérieure, Paris
186. Dr.Tanzila Mukhtar University of California, San Francisco
187. Anandita Thakur Institute of Chinese Studies
188. Yudhajeet Sinha Student
189. SwatijaParanjape Forum Against Oppression of women
190. Asif Seraj Humanity
191. Bhawna Khattar Consultant
192. Aamir Zeb CVC
193. SohamVijaykumarJagtap Law Student
194. Jayasurya K None
195. RaghavMendiratta London School of Economics
196. Mitul Kajaria Artist
197. Kokila B Activist and visual artist
198. Surya shankar Revolucinema
199. Mohammed Iqbal Journalist
200. Chetna Sharma Independent
201. Shweta Azad Student
202. Anuradha Kapoor Feminist Activist
203. Ishaan Arora Delhi Youth Federation of India, Delhi
204. Dr.Mergina Tolerance to truth
205. GeetaThatra JNU
206. R.Manohar Human Rights Defenders Alert India
207. PradiptaNayak Human Rights Activist
208. AsirThanasingh Independent
209. Waseem Yaqoob Lecturer in the History of Political Thought, Schoolof History, Queen Mary University of London
210. Priyanka Singh
211. Anirudh Ajay Chalke Student
212. Soumyadeb Hui Independent
213. Saheli, New Delhi Women’s Resource Centre
214. Rohini Garg Individual
215. Anand Raj Independent
216. Arunima Joshua Independent journalist and writer
217. SethuLekshmi Teacher
218. Perumal Endorsement
219. Utsav Kumar N/A
220. Vandana Independent feminist and gender equality practitioner
221. KaustubhKhare Blue Sky Analytics
222. Sumitha Independent
223. Farah Naqvi Writer and Activist, Delhi
224. Yusra Hasan former student, JamiaMilliaIslamia
225. Palani Independent
226. AkhileshwariRamagoud Independent Journalist and Academic
227. Nimisha Ambedkar University, Delhi
228. Kaniz Fatima Student
229. Ananya Jawaharlal Nehru University
230. Shaguftaparveen Civil servant
231. Harsh Individual
232. Divya Shree Individual
233. Rohan poojary saha institute of nuclear research
234. AyanMukhopadhyay IIT Madras
235. Ratna Associate Professor, Sri Venkateswara
236. ShubhamNirbhay Student
237. Anshuman Agrawal Université Paris Saclay
238. Dharma Teja Independent Filmmaker
239. Ganesan Child Rights Defender
240. Sabah Independent
241. VikashShivram none
242. Anish Gawande Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University
243. MeeraSanghamitra National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
244. AwanthiVardaraj Writer, editor, and journalist
245. Akanksha Mehta Goldsmiths, University of London
246. Mohammed ameenArimbra Sciences Po
247. Dr V Rukmini Rao Activist/feminist
248. Furqan Post graduate in social work
249. Radhika Jindal Global University
250. Sajaya K Women and Transgender legs JAC
251. Gangadharan Menon RachanaSansad College
252. Dimple Oberoi Vahali Independent Activist
253. Suresh Hyderabad
254. Anil NGO
255. VarshaBhargavi Labour & Child Rights Activist
256. Khalidaparveen Amoomaf society
257. Anandu K.B Indian
258. Vvjyothi Journalist
259. Dabormaïan Jude Non-personal
260. sumitra Daughters Ankuram
261. Farida Independent researcher
262. Kuhaneswari Independent
263. Karuna D W Visiting faculty, Azim Premji University
264. Marissa Lyngdoh Non personal
265. Rita Manchanda  South Asia Forum for Human Rights
266. Padmaja Shaw Rtd Professor Osmania University
267. KheyaSengupta None
268. ApoorvaVishnoi Lawyer
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270. Sarojini N Delhi
271. abhabhaiya Individual feminist activist
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275. Aditya Tripathi Law Graduate
276. MaliniSubramanism Independent journalist
277. SaumyaBahuguna Independent Child Protection Professional
278. Rama Melkote Prof retd . Osmania University Hyderabad
279. R S Lakshman Advocate at the High Court of Delhi
280. Christy Queer Collective – TISS, Mumbai
281. Akshat Agarwal Legal Analyst, Koan Advisory
282. LeronDSouza Film maker
283. Deepak Ingle Advocate
284. Juhi Sharma Indian Women Cinematographers Collective
285. Trishna Woman, human
286. Furqan University of Sussex
287. Ilyass Hussain Student
288. Farida Khan Independent researcher
289. Shrushti Mane @lgbtmumbai
290. Kamayani Bali Mahabal Kashmir Solidarity Group, Mumbai
291. Anna Dasgupta Independent
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294. Lisa Mendes Educationist
295. Satyavati Social Activist
296. Faila Khan Independent
298. Bishaldeka Non personal
299. Priyanka BITS Pilani
300. SundeepVema University of Cambridge
301. Yawar Amin IT
302. Afreen Individual
303. Vibhuti Delhi University
304. Amrin Khalil Induvidual
305. Anmol Malhotra Concerned Citizen of the World’s Largest Democracy
306. Siah Student
307. Owais Aziz Organization
308. Tara Rai Ashoka University
309. Sreyash Sarkar CNRS
310. RuchiraArakkal Architect
311. Kaveri Kala IIT Delhi
312. Dimple Oberoi Vahali Independent Activist
313. S.Pison Independent
314. Kamran None
315. RituparnaSengupta PhD scholar, IIT Delhi
316. sharmilasreekumar IIT Bombay
317. Yogesh Vaishnav Social activist
318. Ayesha Minhaz Independent Journalist
319. Amit Bhaduri Former emeritus professor JNU
320. Amrita Shodhan SOAS, University of London
321. Aamir Fellow
322. Shewli Kumar Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
323. SanjanaGaind Independent
324. Sameer Gojwari Independent
325. Abbas Muzaffar Independent Journalist and Filmmaker
326. RafiaRasool Independent
327. Suneptula S Jamir Student.
328. Rashid Malik None
329. Sumbul Naqvi Humanitarian
330. Naseem ZEE
331. Ajay Skaria Professor, University of Minnesota
332. OishikSircar Jindal Global Law School
333. CyclewalaMohamedsalim G. Independent
334. Yousuf Saeed Independent filmmaker, New Delhi
335. MadhuBhushan Independent women’s rights activist
336. MuskaanKoul Pursuing Undergraduate Law Student
337. Gulbahar Shah Independent
338. Bharat S Tiwari Shabdankan
339. VandanaMohindra Environmental consultant
340. ChanderPrabha JanwaroMahilaSamiti
341. Ambreen Independent
342. Anirban Media
343. Husain Delhi
344. Rifat Independent
345. Swarna Self
346. ArunimaBhattacharjee Lawyer
347. Sagari R Ramdas Veterinary Scientist and Member, Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
348. Shreyasvaghe Independent
349. Syed Suheel Azim Premji University
350. Rohit James Joseph Centre for Development Studies
351. Jyotsna Jha CBPS
352. Uma Chakravarti Feminist Historian
353. Shreya Kallingal None
354. NamarataBaijal Filmmaker
355. Hasina khan Gender rights activist
356. Haris Rashid International Marxist Tendency
357. Gazanfar Aligarh Muslim University
358. Nitika Social worker and thinker
359. MMPSingh Editor , Naya Path & General secretary , JanwadiLekhakSangh
360. RekhaAwasthi National Secretary ,JanwadiLekhakSangh& retired DU Teacher.
361. Anuradha Banerji Saheli, New Delhi
362. NanditaNarain Delhi University
363. Abha Dev Habib MIranda House, DU
364. Rajeev kunwae Assist. Prof.Dyal Singh College, Delhi University
365. Liza Ghazal Student, St Stephen’s College
366. अश्विनीकुमारसुकरात जनचेतनाजनमुक्ति
367. KirtanaChouthoy Student at Ambedkar University Delhi
368. Binish none
369. Shraddha M Individual
370. Farah Karachiwala Citizen of Democratic India
371. Vinay Gidwani University of Minnesota, USA
372. Shazia khan Filmmaker
373. Sana Hassan Independent
374. Prof. P. H. Mohammad MANUU
375. Mehvish Independent
376. Rajesh Kumar Citizen of india
377. HinaFathima Sciences Po
378. RohiniHensman writer and independent scholar
379. Pratibha Independent
380. ShifanaFathima Individual
381. Hina S OJ
382. Shalini Gera Advocate, High Court of Chhattisgarh
383. AnindyaDey Johns Hopkins University
384. PranjaliSahni Student at King’s College London
385. Ishrat Bashir Central University of Kashmir
386. Dr.RosemaryDzuvichu Nagaland University
387. Faiz K p Kerala
388. Pallavi Researcher
389. Asma Khawaja Lawyer
390. Haseenmusarat Writer
391. Rajorshi Das PhD student, University of Iowa
392. SnehaAmarapuram Concerned citizen of india
393. Shikha Vats IIT-Delhi
394. AayushSoni Journalist
395. Mahnaz Aurat Foundation
396. Arudra Burra IIT Delhi
397. Naghma Rashid Development Activist
398. BhavyaPaliwal Cornell Univesritu
399. Muneer Muhammed Citizen
400. Nighat khan Asr Resource Centre
401. Shivangi Mariam Sharma Student of Literature and Linguistics, New Delhi
402. Fatima Maan Boston University
403. Shubhangi Singh Human Rights Advocate
404. AkankshaMansukhani Independent Research Scholar
405. Popti Waf
406. RubinaSaigol Women Action Forum
407. Sowmya M Concerned Indian citizen
408. Swati Goswami Activist
409. KeshabMansukhani Independent
410. ShuchiTripathi Independent
411. KWRN Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Network
412. Nandita Krishna NIL
413. Saarang Narayan University of Leeds
414. Rabiya None
415. ShaswatiMazumdar Retd from Delhi University
416. KhawarMumtaz Self employed
417. Themeem T St Stephen’s College,  Delhi
418. Himanshu Multimedia Journalist
419. MisbahHaqani Individual
420. Tanuj Kumar Indian Citizen
421. Kushaandosajh Student
422. BindhulakshmiPattadath Mumbai
423. Urvashi Butalia Personal
424. S Mustafa Zaidi Associate Professor (Retd), AMU
425. Indrapramit Das Writer
426. Moonis None
427. Deepa V Health Activist, Delhi
428. Sandhya Phadke
429. Uma V Chandru WSS, Bangalore
430. Sangeeta Chatterji Johns Hopkins University
431. F Minusia IBM India
432.  Dr Mira Shiva Public Health Physician
433. DivyaDwivedi IIT Delhi
434. Manish Chaturvedi IIT Delhi
435. Nitya V Azim Premji University, Bangalore
436. Bittu K R WSS
437. Stuti Independent
438. Shalini Sinha Marketing professional
439. Ramdas Rao All India People’s Forum & PUCL
440. Shraddha C University of Hyderabad
441. Chayanika Shah Member, LABIA -A Queer Feminist LBT Collective
442. Akhil Independent
443. Faraz Ahmad Freelance journalist
444. Dr Asha Saxena Ahmad Eye surgeon
445. Arundhati Chauhan Jawaharlal Nehru University
446. tulasirambattepati Indian
447. Shobhit Gupta IIT Delhi
448. Anita Cherian Ambedkar University Delhi
449. Anjali Rawat BCL Candidate, University of Oxford




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