In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Aasif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist, who has been detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) since 27 August 2018, has completed three years in prison as an under-trial during which he has not been granted bail so far.
Journalist Aasif Sultan was detained from his home in August 2018 and arrested a few days later, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Police filed a chargesheet against him in February 2019.
Sultan has received several awards for his work from various journalist organizations across the world. Last year, Sultan was named one of TIME Magazine’s “10 Most Urgent” examples of threats to press freedom throughout the world. He is being held at the Srinagar Central Jail.
The next hearing of Sultan’s case is scheduled on 1 September 2021, as per Sabina Akhtar, his wife. “I am hopeful that he will be released,” she said. “With every hearing, there is hope and there is fear too of him not getting bail.”
The delay in granting bail to Sultan has saddened the family but Sabina Akhtar has been hopeful throughout. “We always think that he will be released this time but that doesn’t happen. That’s how our three years passed [waiting for him to get bail],” she said.
For the last three years of Sultan’s arrest, playing a role of both the parents for her daughter has been difficult for Sabina Akhtar. “Three years have been really difficult. Don’t even ask. It’s difficult to raise a child in their father’s absence,” she said.
A month before his arrest, Sultan had written a cover story for the Kashmir Narrator magazine on Burhan Wani, a popular youth leader, whose killing in 2016 by the Indian forces sparked a major uprising in Kashmir that lasted several months.—KMS