Srinagar: Quashing the detention order passed by District Magistrate Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the release of journalist Fahad Shah ‘if he is not required in any other case’.
“Right to life and liberty is one of the most cherished rights enjoyed by citizen and the State is duty bound to protect this precious right in the light of the cherished constitutional freedom,” the court said as per an order accessed by Free Press Kashmir.
It added, “In absence of any compelling reasons, the order of detention cannot sustain the test of law.”
According to the petitioner, as mentioned in the order copy, “The specific case of the petitioner is that the detenu is a reputed journalist having earned a good name and fame on international level in the field of honest and fair journalism and he is a peace loving and law abiding citizen having no criminal record or any adverse record in his career. He is polite and a hard working journalist having being contributing for the cause of justice, majesty of law, peace and prosperity in a very efficient manner.”
“Further specific case of the petitioner is that the allegations levelled in terms of grounds of detention against the detenu are baseless, unfounded vague and without any substance, same are refuted by the detenu as there is no iota of truth in the allegation in creating law and order problem in the society,” the order mentioned.
The petitioner added, “He has never acted in any manner or behaved in any way by his writings or deeds or by using social media which would constitute any offence in terms of law or which could promote violence or lawlessness in the society at large and he never behaved or acted in any manner which could be detrimental or prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or law and order.”
Fahad 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.
Fahad 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.
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 the 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.