Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan walks out of jail after 2011 days in prison

Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan was released from Ambedkar Nagar district jail in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, ending a five-year-long incarceration.

Initially arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Ranbir Penal Code, and PSA, he was freed approximately 78 days after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court annulled his detention order on December 11, citing procedural lapses.

Despite the court’s ruling, Sultan awaited “clearance letters” from Kashmir’s home department and Srinagar district magistrate, finally regaining his freedom.

Initially accused in 2018 of supporting a banned militant group, he secured bail on April 5, 2022, as investigations failed to establish any links. However, he was subsequently detained under the draconian PSA by the Srinagar district magistrate four days later.

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.

Media watchdogs and human rights groups had decried the arrest as an attempt to silence journalists in the conflict-torn valley.

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