‘Behind bars for 75 days’: Journalists’ body CPJ condemns arrested Reporter Aasif Sultan’s ‘continuous detention’

Srinagar: The Asia desk of Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday took to Twitter to condemn the detention of journalist, Aasif Sultan, assistant editor of monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator, calling it ‘a violation of basic human rights’.

On Twitter, it wrote: “Putting Aasif Sultan, a Srinagar-based journalist, behind bars for 75 days without bail is not just an attack on #pressfreedom but a violation of basic human rights. Indian authorities must immediately drop charges and release him. http://bit.ly/2Fl8tvD #JournalismIsNotACrime.”

After being arrested in a nocturnal raid at his Batamaloo residence in August, Aasif has been languishing in police custody. However, the cops had said that Aasif had been formally arrested and the case was being dealt by the Superintendent of Police (South).

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

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“The story was about Burhan Wani,” Sultan had said. “Now, they picked him up for no crime of his.”

It was the first time Aasif had landed in trouble for fulfilling his professional duties, he had told Free Press Kashmir.

Sultan had added that the police had asked him to sign the documents of Aasif’s formal arrest which he has denied to do.

“I am coming from the police station. I told them I will not sign any papers. First, they pick him up and now they are saying they will formally arrest him,” he had said.

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A top police official from Batmaloo had informed FPK that Aasif had been locked up in the police station Batamaloo and that his case would be handled by the court.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had condemned the arrest of Aasif Sultan and demanded his ‘immediate release’ in a statement issued.

In a similar incident, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society condemned the arrest of Aasif Sultan.

“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.

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had called for “immediate and unconditional” release of Sultan, “in violation of all criminal procedure rules for the past ten days”.

“Detaining a journalist without any serious evidence to support the charges against him is unacceptable,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, in a statement.

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