The Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to immediately cease harassing and intimidating Yashraj Sharma, interim editor of the online news portal of The Kashmir Walla, and the portal’s staff.
The State Investigation Agency (SIA), a body of the Jammu and Kashmir police that investigates terrorism cases, questioned Sharma on Thursday at the agency’s police station at the Joint Interrogation Centre in Jammu.
The SIA had summoned Sharma in relation to a terrorism investigation opened in April 2022 into Abdul Aala Fazili, a one-time contributor to The Kashmir Walla, and an unspecified number of other unnamed people associated with the news portal, in connection with Fazili’s 2011 opinion article published by The Kashmir Walla, according to those sources and CPJ documentation. Sharma, who joined The Kashmir Walla in 2018, was 12 when Fazili’s article was published.
“The summoning of Indian journalist Yashraj Sharma for questioning in relation to a Kashmir Walla article published when he was 12 years old, fully six years before he joined the publication, takes Indian authorities’ harassment of independent media in Kashmir into the realm of absurdity,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Jammu and Kashmir authorities must immediately stop the relentless harassment and end the vindictive campaign against The Kashmir Walla and its staff.”
The SIA had arrested Fazili in relation to that investigation on 17 April.
On 20 May, the SIA arrested already-detained Kashmir Walla editor Fahad Shah and moved him from Kashmir’s Kupwara District Jail to the Joint Interrogation Centre for questioning in relation to the same investigation. This marked Shah’s fifth arrest since February 4, when he was first arrested on accusations of sedition and terrorism.
In February 2022, CPJ joined 57 organizations in a letter calling on Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, to immediately release Shah and all arbitrarily detained Kashmiri journalists, including The Kashmir Walla trainee reporter Sajad Gul.