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A Delhi court today reserved its order on the bail plea of a freelance photo-journalist, arrested last year for alleged stone-pelting and other offences in the Kashmir Valley, after he alleged that NIA was trying to gag the media. Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat reserved the order for February 19 after hearing arguments from accused Kamran Yusuf and the probe agency, which had said that allegations levelled against him were serious. The NIA had filed a charge sheet against the accused and 11 others, including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen head Syed Salahuddin. The advocate appearing for the accused told the court court that there was no evidence against the accused in the charge sheet. "There is nothing in the charge sheet against my client. It only claims that he was in contact with other journalists but does not show any conspiracy with the other co-accused in the case," advocate Warisha Farasat, appearing for Yusuf, said. "They are trying to gag the media through his custody. Now NIA is trying to teach what journalism means.
This is just an abuse of the process of law," the advocate said. The accused has sought the relief saying he was working as a journalist and his presence at various stone pelting sites was merely because he was covering those incidents. The NIA had earlier alleged in the court that the accused was acting as a conduit for those involved in terror funding. "He (Yusuf) was working as a conduit to those raising funds and facilitating their motives. It was all part of a larger conspiracy," it had said. The agency had alleged that Yusuf was an "active participant" in stone pelting and raising anti-national slogans and that there were some WhatsApp groups which showed he had links with the terror outfits. Yusuf, a resident of Pulwama, was arrested in September last year along with one Javed Ahmed Bhat, a Kulgam resident, by the NIA in continuation of its probe in the funding of terror and separatist activities in the Valley. The bail pleas of Bhat and Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, arrested in the case, is also pending before the court, which will hear arguments on the matter on February 23. The agency said that the two accused had circulated pictures and videos on social networking sites that sparked widespread rumours in the Valley. Earlier, the NIA had arrested seven people in the case of alleged funding of terror and subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley to fuel unrest there. The case was registered on issues of raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala channels, for funding such activities.
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