India News

J&K Court Issues Arrest Warrant Against Journalist Gowhar Geelani

A court in the Shopian district of south Kashmir has issued an arrest warrant against journalist-author Gowhar Geelani, following his non-appearance after being served a notice.


On Thursday, the executive magistrate directed the Station House Officer (SHO) at Heepora in Shopian to produce Geelani before the court by Saturday “in order to maintain peace and public tranquillity.”

Gowhar, author of Kashmir: Rage and Reason, works for publications such as BBC, Deutsche Welle, Telegraph and The Federal. He is a vocal critic of the state government and its policies.

On February 1, a complaint was received by the police stating that Gowhar had acted against public interest when he shared information on social media about a policeman being injured by a militant attack in Shopian.

Following this, Geelani was served a notice on February 3, stating that he was booked under Section 107 of the CrPC. According to this section, an executive magistrate can require a person to show cause why they should not be ordered to execute a bond if the magistrate receives information that the person is likely to commit a breach of peace or disturb public tranquillity.

Geelani was also summoned to appear before the court on February 7 regarding this charge.

“You have disseminated information on social media that would have endangered the life of the injured individual and other persons. Besides, circulation of your information has raised serious security and breach of peace concerns,” the court stated.

When the journalist failed to appear before the court, the arrest warrant was issued against him by the magistrate. Moreover, the arrest warrant against Geelani also stated that he was booked under Section 151 of the CrPC, under which an individual can be placed in detention indefinitely. The previous notice had only mentioned Section 107, according to The Wire.

Earlier, in 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir Police had booked Geelani under the UAPA for “indulging in unlawful activities through his posts and writings on social media platforms which are prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India.”


Geelani is the third journalist to be booked in 2022 in Kashmir over social media posts, after Fahad Shah, editor of Kashmir Walla, who was arrested in February, and Sajad Gul in January.

Earlier this week, 58 human rights organisations and media outlets, including the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Press Club of India, wrote a joint open letter to the territory’s New Delhi-appointed lieutenant governor, calling for the immediate release of Shah, as well as other detained Kashmiri journalists such as Gul. The letter also called for an end to the policy of systematic censorship implemented in the region.