April 4, 2009

Journo plays prank, army goes into a tizzy

Even an April Fool joke is not always as it should be in Kashmir. A prank played by a journalist on the security forces on Wednesday could not only have proved fatal for others, but could also boomerang on him.

A journalist with a New Delhi-based TV channel sent an SMS to a senior army official in Srinagar, saying the fidayeen (suicide squad) had taken control of the Srinagar International Airport.

To send the alarm bells ringing louder, he wrote that former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and People’s Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was among people holed up at the airport.

“Five fidayeen have entered ...the airport and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is among the persons holed up there,” read the SMS.

The army immediately cordoned off the airport along with the local police. By then, panic had gripped the airport complex with passengers unable to figure out what was happening. The security forces also zeroed in some “suspects” and kept them under vigil.

Suddenly, the officer gets another SMS from the same journalist, saying, “April Fool”.

A senior army official told HT over the phone from Srinagar, “It’s ridiculous and absolute foolishness on his part. How could he play such a prank on the security forces in Kashmir? We sounded an alert within minutes, as one can’t take chances in Kashmir.”

In Kashmir, security forces treat any information from journalists as ‘credible’. Enraged, the army official informed the Inspector General of Police and the journalist was arrested. He was released only on the intervention of some senior government officials.

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