Global press body demands release of Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Jammu and Kashmir authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Fahad Shah, drop any investigation into his work, and cease detaining members of the press. Photo: Umer Asif/ The Kashmir Walla

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Jammu and Kashmir authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Fahad Shah, drop any investigation into his work, and cease detaining members of the press.

On Friday evening, Jammu and Kashmir police arrested Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla for allegedly posting “anti-national content.” Police claimed that Shah had been identified among “some Facebook users and [news] portals” that had published “anti-national content,” but did not mention any specific content.

“The arrest of Fahad Shah shows Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C.

“Authorities must immediately release Shah, and all other journalists behind bars, and cease detaining and harassing journalists for simply doing their jobs,” he added.

Earlier, on 1 February, Shah was called for interrogation but released later that evening.

The global press body said, Shah told CPJ in a phone interview before his detention that police had questioned him on 1 February about The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of a gun fight between militants and government forces on 30 January, which was published on the outlet’s website and its official Facebook page.

CPJ also claimed that they repeatedly called Kashmir Police Director-General Dilbag Singh and Pulwama Police Senior Superintendent Ghulam Geelani, and contacted them via messaging app for comment, but did not receive any replies.