Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“Process as punishment”: Press Club of India condemns arrest 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 Press Club of India and Press Association on Monday released a statement expressing their concern over the unfair incarceration of award-winning Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan.

The statement strongly condemned the treatment meted out by the government against Sultan and urged the Press Council of India to institute an independent inquiry into his repeated arrests and harassment.

“These repeated attempts by the J&K government to use the process as punishment against Sultan despite courts finding no merit in the state’s charges, seem to suggest a vindictive design at play that should be probed under the close scrutiny of the Press Council of India,” the statement said.

In 2018, Sultan was framed with charges of harbouring and providing logistical support to terrorists.

After languishing in Kashmir Central Jail for more than three years, a local court granted him bail in April 2022, as the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence linking Sultan to any such activity.

But before his release, the J&K government invoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) against him on charges of “harnessing militants” and he was re-arrested.

Once again, his detention under PSA was quashed by J & K High Court in December 2023 because it found no evidence to substantiate the allegations made against Sultan.

Even after the Court verdict, the government took more than two months to release Sultan, but within hours of reaching home, Sultan was arrested again on February 29 making him an accused in a 2019 case pertaining to a clash inside the Kashmir Central Jail.

“The Press Club of India demands that the state government adhere to the values enshrined in the Constitution, instead of harassing Asif Sultan for doing his journalistic duty. We demand the due process be followed and not abused while dealing with journalists. The government should release Asif Sultan, a recipient of the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the National Press Club of America,” the statement added.

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