Digital Media Subscriptions Can Be A Route To Foment Trouble, Says Jammu And Kashmir Probe Agency
The State Investigation Agency (SIA) has warned that the subscription model adopted by digital media platforms can be exploited by "unscrupulous elements" to finance and foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, an Indian Express report says.
This was revealed in a chargesheet filed by the SIA in a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Jammu.
On 16 March, the court charged journalist Peerzada Fahad Shah and Kashmir University scholar Abdul Aala Fazili, who were arrested earlier, for an alleged seditious article.
The article was authored by Fazili and published by Shah's digital magazine, The Kashmir Walla, back in 2011.
According to the chargesheet filed in October 2020, the digital magazine operated on a subscription basis where readers paid a fee.
“Unscrupulous elements can utilise this route to fund an entity to foment trouble in a region and carry out propaganda in its own interest,” it stated, adding that “this part is under investigation."
The SIA claimed that Shah received a total of Rs 9,559,163 in three bank accounts, with one of them purportedly receiving foreign funding of Rs 1,059,163 from Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organisation in 2020-21.
The chargesheet claimed that the money was sent in three instalments, and the account did not qualify for overseas donations as it was not registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
Reportedly, an account received Rs 58 lakh, of which Rs 30 lakh is foreign contribution via subscription payment, said to be suspicious, the chargesheet noted.
According to the SIA, they were given a printout of an article titled 'The shackles of slavery will break' by a reliable source on 4 April 2022. However, the SIA was unable to find the article on The Kashmir Walla website as it had been removed secretly by the digital portal. The SIA believed this was done as part of an effort to destroy evidence.
A preservation request was made on 11 April 2022 to the domain provider. The article, which had disappeared from the website, reappeared. The article was downloaded by a technical expert in the presence of the Executive Magistrate Ist Class on 12 April, proving that the article was available on the internet.
The chargesheet alleges that Fazili, who was a beneficiary of a monthly stipend from the Indian government, went against the government and participated in a conspiracy to undermine it despite being sponsored by the government.
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