Expressing concern over the alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation of journalists covering the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to take measures to stop the acts and asked to file a response in sixty days.
Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Elina Steinerte, Vice Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, have urged the GoI that all necessary measures be taken to halt the alleged violations and prevent their re-occurrence till the reply is filed.
The council said it had shared the same concerns with GoI last year but regret that no reply has yet been received to the communication.
According to the report, the Kashmiri journalists include Fahad Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla; Auqib Javeed, a Srinagar-based independent journalist; Sajad Gul, a freelance journalist who writes for The Kashmir Walla; and Qazi Shibli, editor of news magazine The Kashmiriyat.
It also mentioned The Kashmir Times, a daily newspaper whose Srinagar office was sealed by authorities in October 2020.
The GoI has been asked to provide information for the decisions of lodging “criminal charges” against the journalists and closing of The Kashmir Times office.
It also asked the GoI to provide information on measures that have been taken to ensure that journalists and human rights defenders of the region are able to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear or threats and acts of intimidation and harassment of any sort.
The council said it would appreciate receiving a response within the next sixty days. Passed this delay, this communication and any response received from GoI will be made public via the communications reporting website. They will also subsequently be made available in the usual report to be presented to the human rights council.