Jammu & Kashmir

Media bodies condemn journalist Sajad Gul’s arrest, seek immediate release

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Sajad Gul. [Photo: Twitter/SajadGul]

Srinagar: The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) on Monday called for an immediate release of the journalist, Sajad Gul and urged the authorities to drop all the cases against him.

In a statement, the KPC said that it was deeply disturbed by the arrest of Gul, who apart from contributing news reports from his area for an online portal, is presently pursuing Masters in Convergent Journalism from the Central University of Kashmir.

The Club urged the authorities to immediately drop the alleged charges against Gul for his journalistic work, adding that the FIR against him is purely aimed at “criminalizing” the reportage and journalistic work in Kashmir.

While expressing its concern over the “continuous harassment and threats” of legal action against journalists in Kashmir by the police authorities, the Club in its statement said that the “threats, summons and arrests” of the media persons have effectively restrained independent and investigative reporting from the region.

The Club demanded an immediate release and dropping of charges against Gul and also urged the authorities to create a conducive environment for journalists operating in Kashmir, “free from threats, summons and arrests”.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Journalists Association (JAKJA) has also written a letter to the Press Council of India (PCI) seeking immediate release of the journalist.

Gul was picked up from home in Shahgund village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora last Wednesday. On 8, January 2022, the Police in its statement said that he is in their custody. They further added that Gul had posted an “objectionable” video on his Twitter handle.

Gul, according to the association, has been facing “intimidation by the police for the past nearly a year”.

In a letter, JAKJA said, “We are deeply disturbed and concerned about such arbitrary detentions and we immediately seek your intervention in this matter as it threatens the freedom of the press in the region, which has been falling apart especially in the last two years and demanded the immediate release of Gul and dropping of all the charges against him”.

On 8, January 2022, the Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK) also condemned the Gul’s arrest.

The Federation in a statement, said, “JFK understands it as a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground that the authorities are uncomfortable with”.

It strongly condemned the pattern of “intimidation and views it as continued attacks” on freedom of the press in Kashmir.

It further said that the journalists in Kashmir have always worked under perilous conditions, holding up values of press freedom in the face of dangers to life and liberty.

While reiterating the demand the Federation said that the practice of summoning journalists to police stations should end and cases against journalists must be withdrawn immediately, including that of Gul and should be released immediately.

A vibrant media is vital for a democracy to flourish and for that press freedom is of the utmost importance, the statement ends.

 

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