Friday, March 1, 2024

J&K HC orders release of Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan

Founder and editor of Kashmir Narrator Showkat Motta questioned the extended delay in Aasif’s case. “Why would it take 1000 days for the so-called evidence to be established?” he asks.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday quashed the detention of journalist Asif Sultan under the Public Safety Act and ordered his immediate release.

The bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul said that the procedural requirements were not followed by authorities while detaining him and that made the detention order illegal and unsustainable.

Sultan was arrested on 27 August 2018 and booked under India’s anti-terror law — Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Sultan, a journalist with the monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator, is being tried for “complicity” in “harbouring known terrorists”.

In July 2018, Sultan wrote a cover story for the Kashmir Narrator about the slain Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani, whose killing by Indian security forces set off a wave of anti-government demonstrations in Kashmir in July 2016.

Sultan’s story included interviews with non-combatant members of Wani’s militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and according to his brother Motta Sultan police pressured Aasif Sultan to disclose his sources for the story.

Sultan was detained under the PSA in April 2022, days after a court granted him bail in the UAPA case. Media watchdogs and human rights groups have decried the arrest as an attempt to silence journalists in the conflict-torn valley.

Last month, the court ordered the release of journalist Fahad Shah and quashed the preventive detention of another journalist Sajad Gul.

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