IFJ condemns arrest of Kashmir-based journalist Aasif, demands ‘immediate release’

Kashmir Narrator Assistant Editor Aasif Sultan was arrested on charges of alleged militancy crimes.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the arrest of Kashmir Narrator Assistant Editor Aasif Sultan and demanded his ‘immediate release’ in a statement issued today.

The IFJ said Indian police arrested and detained the assistant editor over alleged militancy crimes and held him for six days without charge.

“The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Indian Journalist Union (IJU) in condemning the arrest and detention of Aasif Sultan and demands his immediate release,” the IFJ statement said.

The IFJ said Sultan is not the first journalist in Kashmir to be arrested for ‘dubious charges of militancy’ involvement.

“Photojournalist Kamran Yousuf was detained for more than six months before finally being released on bail in March, 2018. Kashmir Observer daily’s Aqib Javed Hakim was also summoned to New Delhi and interrogated on July 14 and 15 this year over an interview with a separatist leader,” IFJ said.

The IFJ said the situation for journalists in Kashmir remains grim with media on the edge, particularly following the June 14 assassination of Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir daily, outside his office by unidentified gunmen.

IFJ General secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The arrest and charge against Asif Sultan for his reporting is deplorable and unacceptable. We demand his immediate release and urge the Indian to critically address the deteriorating situation for media workers in Kashmir who are increasingly being targeted for doing their job.”

In a similar incident, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society condemned the recent arrests of Kashmir Narrator assistant editor Aasif Sultan and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha among others in a statement.

“Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) condemns these arrests and hopes that people in India and institutions would rise to this occasion and express unconditional solidarity with these activists and all those who in a similar manner are being targeted by the ruling class for the work which is produced by them. This sustained stifling of the dissent has made India an absolute majoritarian and authoritarian regime,” the statement read.

Earlier, after being arrested in a nocturnal raid at his Batamaloo residence on Monday, Aasif Sultan, Kashmir-based journalist, who is the Assistant Editor of the monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator has been languishing in police custody since a week now, his father said.

However, the cops have said that Aasif has been formally arrested and the case is being dealt by the Superintendent of Police (South).

While returning from Police Station Batmaloo, Mohammad Sultan, Aasif’s father informed FPK that his son, a “diligent journalist” was picked up by the forces at around 2 in the intervening night of August 26-27. He reckons that he is in trouble for a story that was published in the magazine.

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