Jammu & Kashmir

International media organisations issue joint statement on detention of Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah

Fahad Shah. [File Photo]

Various international news organizations have issued a joint statement over the detention of Kashmiri journalist, Fahad Shah, who was arrested on February 04, 2022.

The organizations in a joint statement said, “A full year has passed since Fahad Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla newspaper and an internationally respected reporter with whom we have worked, was arrested on Feb. 4, 2022, in Kashmir for publishing anti-national content.”

“The Kashmir Walla, which Shah founded, elevates the voices of everyday people and stands fast against unjust laws with honest reporting. But Shah has paid a heavy price for that work. He has been granted bail repeatedly, only to be immediately rearrested,” the statement said.

“He continues to be held in a jail in Jammu, far from family and friends, under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. He is facing life imprisonment if convicted,” read the statement.

“Shah’s case is a sharp reminder of the need to strengthen free voices as efforts to shut them down intensify daily around the globe. His release is particularly important to the cause of free press in Kashmir.”

The statement has been jointly issued by Mark Sappenfield, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, Ravi Agrawal, Editor-in-Chief of the Foreign Policy, Erica Berenstein, Executive Producer of News and Documentary of Insider, Dave Besseling, Longreads Editor of South China Morning Post, D D Guttenplan, Editor of The Nation, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Editor of Foreign Affairs, Boyoung Lim, Senior Editor of Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian.

On February 2023, Shah completed one year in jail. He was first arrested on February 4, 2022, after which the police said that Fahad allegedly ‘glorified militancy, spread fake news, and incited people of Jammu and Kashmir’.

The police had also said that three separate First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against Fahad.

“Fahad Shah is wanted in three cases for glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news and inciting general public for creating law and order situations: FIR No. 70/2020 of PS Safakadal Srinagar, FIR No. 06/2021 of PS Imamsahib, Shopian and FIR No. 19/2022 of PS Pulwama,” the police statement had mentioned.

Shah was first arrested in FIR No. 19/2022 registered by Pulwama police, for which interim bail was granted by the special court in Srinagar. He was then arrested by the Shopian Police in FIR No 06/2021, for which the Munsif court granted him interim bail. He was then arrested by Srinagar police.

Jammu and Kashmir Police later booked him under the public safety act and shifted him to central jail in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The journalist is currently lodged in Kot Bhalwal jail.

Earlier, various international press freedom bodies and rights groups demanded the journalist’s release on an immediate basis.

Pertinently, three journalists from Kashmir Fahad Shah, Asif Sultan and Sajad Gul are among five journalists of India who are currently facing detention under various sections of the law, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on December 8, 2022.

Journalists, Siddique Kappan of Kerala and Manan Dar of Kashmir, who were also mentioned in CPJ report, were released on bail recently. Dar was released on January 2, 2023, and Kappan on February 2, 2023.

Dar was arrested on 22 October 2021 for over a year, and Kappan was released 28 months after he was arrested, along with three others, near Mathura while going towards Hathras, where a Dalit girl had been raped and killed by Hindu men.

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