The illegally detained Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, on Saturday, completed four years in jail. He is currently lodged in Agra Central Jail in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh after being booked under draconian law, Public Safety Act (PSA).
Asif Sultan, who has been incarcerated since August 2018, was granted bail by a court in Srinagar on April 05, 2022. However, he was immediately taken in for questioning by the CIK (counter-insurgency Kashmir – a unit of Indian police), after which he was again detained under the PSA. He was shifted to the Kot Bhalwal jail of Jammu, but he was later moved to Agra Central Jail in Uttar Pradesh. Before that, he remained lodged at Central Jail, Srinagar.
Several international organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have demanded the immediate release of Aasif Sultan who worked as an editor with Kashmir-based news magazine – Kashmir Narrator.
Sultan, arrested on August 27, 2018, has been repeatedly denied bail. His trial began in June 2019 and has been moving at a slow pace, CPJ said. Sultan was detained during a nocturnal raid from his home in the Batamaloo area of Srinagar on charges of ‘harboring militants’ and subsequently booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In February 2021, the Clooney Foundation for Justice said that they will monitor Aasif’s case closely through its Trial Watch program. In a statement, which came a day after a court hearing in Srinagar, regarding Sultan’s bail application, it said, “The Clooney Foundation for Justice calls on the authorities to ensure that Sultan’s bail hearing is conducted by international human rights law and any proceedings against him respect his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.”
Pertinently Sajad Gul, a freelance journalist from Bandipora in north Kashmir who is currently detained under the PSA has also been lodged in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail. Kashmiri journalist, Fahad Shah is also incarcerated after being arrested on February 04. Fahad, now booked under PSA is lodged at the same jail.
Manan Gulzar Dar, another Kashmiri journalist who was detained by India’s National Investigating Agency on October 10, is lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.—KMS