A 23-year-old journalist from Jammu & Kashmir was booked by the state police for uploading an image of 22 children, who died 15 years ago in the Wular Lake boat tragedy, on WhatsApp.
The journalist, Sajid Raina from Srinagar, had uploaded the image as his WhatsApp status on May 30, captioning it 'Wular Martyred'. The FIR was lodged at Bandipora Police station, and an inquiry had been initiated into the content and intention behind the post. The police said it would not admit the FIR if the journalist is not proven guilty.
The filing of FIR against Raina was condemned by netizens, who questioned the police for registering a complaint against a person over a social media status/post. Following the outrage, the department tweeted that the intention was not to suppress anyone's profession.
Raina works at Kashmir News Observer (KNO), a Srinagar-based news gathering agency.
He had uploaded the status on the 15th anniversary of the tragedy but took it down in the evening after receiving a call from a senior official of a security agency. He came to know about the FIR on June 1 from a colleague who works for another media outlet. Later, a police officer called him and asked him to come to the station. He requested the department to withdraw the FIR against him, saying that it had only 20 viewers, and he deleted it after receiving a call.
"I said there is nothing inflammatory — I apologised and deleted the status. Only 20 people had seen my status by then. I thought the issue was over. But two days later, I learnt that an FIR had been registered against me," Sajid told The Sunday Express.
He has been charged under sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 (intent to cause fear or alarm to the public, whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or public tranquillity) of the Indian Penal Code.
On May 30, 2006, a group of 35 students (all below the age of ten) of Burning Candle School of Handwara in Kupwara had gone for a picnic to Wular Lake in Watlab in Badipora district. The joyous day soon turned into a tragedy after the motorboat of the Navy's MARCOS carrying the children was engulfed in waves and sank. The rescue teams had saved the lives of around 15 children, while the rest lost their lives.