Monday, June 17, 2024

UAPA: Kashmiri journalist moves Delhi HC, challenging trial court order extending remand

24-year-old photojournalist in Kashmir, Manan Gulzar Dar who has been in jail since October 2021, moved the Delhi High Court challenging a trial court order extending his judicial remand in a case registered under draconian UAPA.
Parents with the photograph of Manan Dar and Hanan Dar. Photo courtesy to The Wire.

24-year-old photojournalist in Kashmir, Manan Gulzar Dar who has been in jail since October 2021, moved the Delhi High Court challenging a trial court order extending his judicial remand in a case registered under draconian UAPA.

Moved through Advocates Tara Narula, Tamanna Pankaj, and Priya Vats, Dar’s plea seeks consequential directions for his release on default bail under sec. 167(1) of CrPC for the reason that the investigating agency had failed to file charge sheet within 90 days of his arrest, Live Law reported.

Dar whose work has featured in international publications like The Guardian, was arrested by the National Investigations Agency (NIA) in connection with a Kashmir militant conspiracy case.

Dar has also contributed to Getty Images and the Pacific Press international photo agency.

The plea has challenged the order passed by Special NIA Judge of Patiala House Courts on 17 January by which the court had granted an extension of 90 days to complete the investigation, under Section 43D(2) of the UAPA.

Dar was inexplicably called for interrogation by the local police station without any formal notice on October 10 last year and was illegally detained for almost two weeks after which he was formally arrested on October 22, the plea states.

“It is pertinent to note that during the period when the subject FIR was registered, around 900 people were detained in Jammu and Kashmir by Kashmir Police and National Investigation Agency ahead of some civilian killings followed with the visit of Home Minister of India. The mass detentions were made in the name of overground workers having alleged connections with Pakistan-based handlers of proscribed terror outfit LeT and their associates based in Jammu and Kashmir had conspired to cause extensive terror activities for harming the public,” read the plea.

According to the plea, the FIR carries vague and generic claims of an alleged conspiracy and also does not provide any details of any accused persons.

“We got to know, through newspapers, that he had been arrested. More than a fortnight has passed but we don’t know if he is alive or dead. Police told us he has been arrested by the NIA and taken to New Delhi,” Manan’s father Gulzar Ahmad Dar earlier told The Wire.

The Wire also reported that NIA had arrested Manan’s brother, Hanan Gulzar Dar, a college student, in October last year. Hanan has been sent to 30-day judicial custody, and is currently lodged in Tihar jail, Free Press Kashmir reported.

“For the longest, we didn’t even know the whereabouts of Dar and his brother. Every day the police claimed that they would be released the next day until one day we were told by the police that they are in NIA custody and are being sent to Delhi,” Huma Farnazah, the journalist’s cousin said to CPJ in a phone interview in November last year. Only on November 3, Manan Dar was allowed a two-minute phone call with his family, Farnazah said.

Live Law reported that the plea was listed for hearing Monday, however, could not be taken up as the division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup J Bhambhani did not assemble for the day. The matter is now listed on 17 February.

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