Skip to main content

New York-based journalists' body seeks release of Kashmir scribe accused of militancy

Counterview Desk
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, which claims to defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal, has accused the authorities in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) of “falsely” implicating Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan on charges of “promoting militancy”.
In a letter to Governor Satya Pal Malik to drop all legal proceedings and set him free immediately, CPJ, which is made up of about 40 experts around the world, with headquarters in New York City and offices in a dozen other countries, has said, “His editor and family have credibly disputed these claims and say his work was strictly that of a journalist gathering news. No chargesheet has been filed.” CPJ has no office in India.
Sultan worked as assistant editor with the "Kashmir Narrator" magazine, and was held by J&K Police on August 27 last year and a First Information Report was filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, described by civil society a draconian law, following a gunfight in Batamaloo on August 12. Cops picked him up after a cover story by the magazine on Burhan Wani, included interviews with overground workers of militant outfits.
Sultan was asked, among other things, to reveal his sources of the story and why he had not instead reported on the government-backed developmental activities in the state. The arrest came even as India continued to slip in the World Press Freedom Index -- it was ranked 138 in 2018 as against 136 a year earlier, one spot below Myanmar and one spot above Pakistan.
A year earlier, in September 2017, another journalist, Kamran Yusuf, was arrested for allegedly encouraging stone pelting and mobilising people to pelt stones on security personnel. He was, however, granted bail after the police failed to produce evidence against him.
Recalling the murder of Shujaat Bukhari, founding editor, "Rising Kashmir", on June 14, 2018, Steven Butler, the Asia Program Coordinator, CPJ, who has written to the Gujarat governor, has sent a copy of the letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

Text of the letter:

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organization that advocates for press freedom worldwide, asks that you release journalist Aasif Sultan, who has been held by Jammu and Kashmir police since August 27, 2018, and drop all legal proceedings against him.
Sultan, a journalist with the "Kashmir Narrator", has been falsely accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His name was included in a First Information Report filed after a gunfight in Batamaloo on August 12, and he has been accused of having contact with and promoting militants. His editor and family have credibly disputed these claims and say his work was strictly that of a journalist gathering news. No charge sheet has been filed.
In July 2018, Sultan wrote a cover story for the "Kashmir Narrator" on militant Burhan Wani, which included interviews with non-combatant members of Hizbul Mujahideen. Police have reportedly subjected Sultan to repeated interrogation during his detention regarding the article, asking him to reveal his sources and why he reported on the conflict in Kashmir, as well as questions on headlines that appeared in the "Kashmir Narrator" and why he had not reported on development in the state. Police have also objected in court to his Facebook postings.
We understand that Jammu and Kashmir is facing a difficult situation, but CPJ would like to stress that interviewing or having sources who are critical of the government is within the scope of a journalists' job and does not implicate them in a crime. Reporting on an important and newsworthy story such as the conflict in Kashmir is a public service, not a criminal act.
Journalists have long operated in a dangerous environment in Kashmir, and we are extremely concerned about the climate for press freedom. In the past year, CPJ has documented various attacks against journalists, including the murder of Shujaat Bukhari and the questioning and detention of multiple reporters for their work. Freedom of the press is a vital tenet of democracy and a proud part of India's history. We urge you to use the authority vested in you as governor of Jammu and Kashmir to help immediately ensure that Aasif Sultan is released and that the charges against him are dropped.

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.