Local journalists’ bodies on Saturday demanded the immediate release of the Kashmir-based journalist Asif Sultan who works with monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator.
The Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) and Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) in a statement said that Sultan has been under ‘illegal detention’ at Police Station Batamaloo for the last six days.
“We demand his immediate release from illegal custody, and action against police officials in charge of the station, and S P South Srinagar for keeping a journalist under illegal detention for a week,” said a joint statement issued by the journalists’ bodies.
Sultan, an Assistant Editor with the monthly newsmagazine, Kashmir Narrator, was picked up from his home in Batamaloo on Monday night, purportedly for questioning, and since then police has not released him, the statement said.
“We have learnt that Sultan is being questioned for his report on slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, published in a recent issue of Kashmir Narrator, along with other stories and has been asked to report his sources to police. Apart from the mistreatment meted out to him in custody, he is also being put questions about his political ideology,” it said.
Quoting the editor of Kashmir Narrator, the statement said police has been dilly dallying Sultan’s release through hollow assurances.
“Rather than releasing Sultan at the earliest, SP South Srinagar, G V Sundeep Chakravarthy even questioned him about his political ideology,” it quoted the editor as having said.
“I thought I will resolve the issue with them amicably and was trying to avoid confrontation but they (police) are prolonging his illegal detention,” the editor was quoted as having said.
“They are asking him who he has talked to, why he has done this and that story, they are discussing headlines with him in lock up and pressurising him to become police source.”
The statement said that it “is no secret that police and intelligence agencies have been trying their best to police the media in Kashmir, and harassing the media organisations and journalists has been a routine, but we want to make it clear that the journalist fraternity will fight such efforts tooth and nail.”
“We are seeking release of Sultan at an earliest and ask the government and police chief to explain the laws and rules under which he has been kept in lockup for the past six days,” it said.
It added both KWJA and KJA also demand initiation of disciplinary and legal action against police officials for violation of the fundamental rights of an individual through prolonged illegal detention.