The Brussels-based global media watchdog, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the re-arrest of Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, saying the draconian law Public Safety Act (PSA) is being misused to “harass and detain journalists”.
Aasif Sultan was held for nearly four years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), after he was arrested in August 2018 on the false charges related to militancy.
He was granted bail on April 5 by a special court of India’s notorious National Investigation Agency (NIA) after the Indian government failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove its charges leveled against him. However, Indian police rearrested Sultan only days later on April 10, lodging him in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail, this time under the PSA.
“Under the PSA, Sultan can be held for up to two years without a formal charge against him and without trial. Detainees under the PSA do not have the right to move a bail application, nor hire any lawyer to represent them,” the IFJ said in a statement.
The journalists’ body also recounted that Sultan is the third Kashmiri journalist to be arrested under the PSA in 2022. Fahad Shah, editor of The Kashmir Walla, was detained under the PSA on February 14. Journalist Sajad Gul was also detained under the same Act on January 16, 2022. In Gul’s case too, the administration invoked the PSA after he was granted bail in a separate case.
Before his arrest, Aasif Sultan was working for the magazine Kashmir Narrator and had published an article titled ‘The Rise of Burhan.—INP