New York-based global media watchdog, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called upon the authorities in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir to release recently detained journalists Salman Shah and Suhail Dar, cease detaining and questioning journalists in relation to their work, and commit to allowing the media to operate freely and independently in the territory.
The CPJ in a statement posted on its website said since October 8, the authorities in IIOJK detained four journalists, subsequently releasing two of them, and questioned one other, according to various news reports and other people familiar with the incidents, who spoke to CPJ via phone.
The five journalists are Salman Shah, editor of Kashmir First, the online weekly magazine of the privately owned news website The Kashmiriyat; Suhail Dar, a freelance journalist contributing to the privately own news websites The Kashmiriyat and Maktoob Media, and the privately owned Urdu-language newspaper Sach News; Mukhtar Zahoor, a freelance journalist contributing to the BBC; Majid Hyderi, a freelance journalist and commentator; and Sajad Gul, a freelance journalist contributing to privately owned news websites The Kashmir Walla and Mountain Ink.
Authorities formally arrested Suhail Dar and Salman Shah on October 14, and both remain detained at Islamabad district jail, according to news reports and family members of the two journalists, who spoke to CPJ via phone.
On October 14, a local magistrate ordered Shah and Dar to remain detained for two days, according to media reports.
“India needs to move quickly to improve its shameful record of harassing and detaining critical journalists in Jammu and Kashmir in a complete abandonment of India’s once-proud tradition of press freedom,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Police must immediately release Salman Shah and Suhail Dar and allow journalists to do their jobs without fear of reprisal,” he added.
Steven Butler said that on the evening of October 8, authorities summoned Dar to the Sadder police station in Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district for questioning before detaining him, according to news reports and Dar’s brother, Tariq Dar, who spoke to CPJ via phone. Tariq Dar told CPJ that the police had not informed the family of any reasons for his brother’s detention.—INP