Srinagar: A Kashmiri journalist Sajad Gul who was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir police last week in connection with a case registered against him was granted bail by a local court in Bandipora district on Saturday.
The arrest was made days after he posted a video of family members raising slogans after the killing of their kin, a militant, in a military operation in Srinagar.
The court of Judicial Magistrate in north Kashmir’s Sumbal granted the bail to Gul today.
Gul, a journalism student who has been contributing to various media outlets and currently reports for The Kashmir Walla, had posted a video of the protest against the killing of Salim Parray, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander on social media. After the killing of Parray, minor protests and sloganeering were reported in the area.
Last week, police in a statement had said that it produced a charge sheet before the court of JMIC Sumbal for judicial determination against a journalist from north Kashmir for allegedly “trying to disrupt peace and tranquility” of the region, saying that he is “involved in tweeting fake news” in order to provoke people against the government.
The police statement mentioned, “Sajad Ahmad Dar, son of Ghulam Muhammad Dar of Shahgund Hajin, runs a tweeter account in the name of Sajad Gull is always in search of anti-government news and uploads tweets, which are not based on facts in order to provoke the people against the government and to spread enmity against the country among people”.
“Last year encroachment drive was carried out by the revenue department in his native village wherein he has instigated the locals against that drive and restrained the officials in discharging their legitimate duties,” police said.
To this effect, a case under FIR number 12/ 2021 under section 147, 447, 336, 353/IPC stands registered against him and the final charge sheet against him has been produced before the court of JMIC Sumbal for judicial determination, police said.
“The subject has spread by virtue of his false tweets and fake narrative regarding the recent anti-militancy operation in Gundjahangeer in which one local militant namely Imtiyaz Ahmad was killed thereby provoking the locals against the Army and Police. In this regard, a case under FIR number 79/2021 under section 120B, 153B, 505/IPC stands registered against him.
It added, “The day when the most wanted militant Saleem Parray was killed in Shalimar Srinagar, Sajad uploaded the videos of anti-national slogans by some women folk, mostly relatives, at the residence of the slain in Hajin, thereby trying to disrupt the peace. His activities are prejudicial to the security and sovereignty of the country.”
The journalist always tweets controversial statements and after provoking the masses deletes the same tweets and thereby is involved in mischievous activities to disrupt peace and tranquility of the region, police said.
On Monday, The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) had called for an immediate release of the journalist and urged the authorities to drop all the cases against him. The media body said that it was deeply disturbed by the arrest of Gul.
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.
Gul was detained after army raided his residential house last week and was later handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The charges against Gul are 120B (party to criminal conspiracy), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), and 505B (fear or alarm to the public) sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Earlier, the journalist had told article 14, that he is already facing many other charges.
On 1 December 2021, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists, tweeted that it was concerned about Gul’s repeated harassment by police.
“Amid ongoing police harassment in retaliation for his journalistic work, CPJ reiterates its call on authorities to drop their investigation into Gul and allow him to report without interference,” said CPJ.