Turkey link emerges in recent threats to Kashmiri-based journalists

NEW DELHI — In the backdrop of recent threats to Kashmir-based journalists, an intelligence report noted that LeT militant Mukthar Baba, who now operates from Turkey, is the mastermind behind putting out a hit list accusing scribes from the Union Territory of being informers for security forces.

According to police, a First Information Report, or FIR, under anti-militant law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has been registered and investigations have been launched after the emergence of the “hit-list”.

An intelligence assessment based on inputs from central intelligence agencies suggest that Baba, visits Pakistan frequently from Turkey and is the kingpin in building and propagating false narrative, grooming youngsters in the Valley for militancy under the banner of The Resistance Front (TRF), which is an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Baba, originally a resident of Srinagar, shifted to Nowgam before escaping to Ankara, Turkey. He has built a network of informers from within journalists on the basis of whose inputs he has prepared the current hit list, sources told ANI.

According to sources, he remained affiliated with militant outfit Hizbullah in the 1990s and was shunted out from the outfit after he was found involved in selling 40 AK series rifles belonging to Hizbullah to another militant organization.

Thereafter, he remained associated with Masrat Alam-led Muslim League and is notorious for his coercive means to compel journalists and media outlets in the Valley to toe Pakistani and militant line in reporting and opinions.

Sources stated that he has always been close to Pakistani agencies while being active in Srinagar with several secessionist outfits. Baba has also been active on social media, making all out efforts to push the narrative at the behest hostile foreign agencies.

Baba, 55, had worked as a journalist with four Valley-based organisations earlier and is very familiar with the media environment in Kashmir, intelligence sources added.
He was lodged in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail for quite some time in 1990.

As per reports, Baba was placed in Turkey sometime in 2018 by Jodha Carin Fischer, an American national of German origin who operated in Jammu and Kashmir as a deep penetration ISI agent for almost eight years before her cover was blown and she was forcibly deported out.

Srinagar Police on November 12 said that a case has been registered against handlers, active militant and overground workers of militant outfit LeT and its offshoot TRF for online publication and dissemination of a direct threat letter to journalists and reporters based in Kashmir. The FIR was filed under sections 13 of the UAPA, and sections 505, 153B, 124A and 506 of the IPC in Shergari Police Station.

“It has been noticed that many media houses are irresponsibly discussing names of journalists regarding the online anonymous threat. Media houses are requested not to fall for sensationalism and to behave responsibly not endangering the safety and security of their fellow journalists,” Srinagar Police said.

According to sources, intelligence agencies pointed out that specific media persons and media outlets were cleverly fulfilling the agenda of the adversary- propagating the fear and intimidation by selectively highlighting the fact of resignations by certain journalists as a result of the hit list type message circulated in the social media.

These entities are either conspicuously silent about the role of the Pakistan proxies in destroying the press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir or at best muted.

The central agencies, sources said, have identified more than six individuals on the basis oif objective evidence and have recommended a mission-based approach to expansively identify these elements, collect evidence by way of mapping their properties, their telecommunication usage, and their travel within the country and abroad to provide an effective response to the challenge. — (ANI)