Srinagar: The French embassy on Monday formally contacted the Jammu and Kashmir police a day after award-winning French journalist Paul Comiti was arrested in Srinagar.
Comiti was produced in a Srinagar court on Monday where the government prosecutor argued that he had violated visa norms. Comiti was then remanded to police custody till December 16, an official told Kashmir Reader.
“The French Embassy’s Consular section head met Comiti, who is in police custody,” a police source said. “The French official expressed satisfaction about the journalist’s physical as well as mental condition and said proper legal course was being followed under Indian law.”
An FIR, number 87/2017 under Section 14 (B) of Passport Act, was registered against Comiti at Police Station Kothibagh, where he has been detained.
The source said that police had intimated the French embassy well in advance about the activities of Comiti in Kashmir.
Comiti, the source revealed, was under the scanner of government agencies for many days. “He was moving around meeting many people from the resistance camp and those injured during the 2016 uprising,” the source said.
The police official said that Comiti was in valley on a “business visa”, not on a journalist visa. “He is a journalist and was doing his professional work but he is here on business visa, which is a clear violation of the law of land,” the official explained. “He is in police custody and he has sought legal help from a lawyer in Srinagar. He will be released soon.”
Sources said that Comiti was actively covering pro-freedom protests, meeting resistance leaders, and had also filmed those injured by pellets.
Comiti had met pro-freedom leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and filmed protesters throwing stones at government forces, said another senior police officer, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The police source said that police had formally called Comiti to explain his activities in Kashmir “but he refused to present himself”. “So, he was arrested,” the source said.
Comiti is a former journalist for the TV channel TF 1 French. He won an award in 2009 in Bayeux for his reporting on French soldiers being ambushed in Afghanistan.
He was arrested from Pratap Park in Srinagar on Sunday while he was preparing a documentary on pellet victims.