Srinagar: A special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday heard the bail plea of incarcerated Kashmiri photo-journalist Kamran Yousuf in New Delhi. The 20-year-old Kamran had applied for bail before the court of Poonam A Bamba in a case of stone-pelting.
Sources in the know of the case told Kashmir Reader that the defence counsel of Kamran argued for more than 90 minutes, impressing upon the judge that there was “nothing against Kamran, so he must be released”.
Kamran had moved his bail application on November 17 and it was listed for hearing today.
“The defence counsel submitted hundreds of newspaper clippings, documents, letters and IDs provided by the Election Authority of India, to emphasise that Kamran was a bonafide journalist and had nothing to do with stone-pelting,” a source closely following Kamran’s case said.
“The court was told that Kamran only covered protests and stone-pelting incidents as a professional journalist does,” the source said. “The court was told that Kamran also covered functions hosted by the Indian army and those held by state authorities.”
Kamran, a Pulwama-based photo-journalist, was arrested by police on September 5 this year. He was later handed over to the NIA, which alleged that Kamran was involved in stone-pelting.
“There is nothing on record against Kamran from the NIA side,” a lawyer who follows Kamran’s case said. “They have only been seeking extension of his judicial custody and that is it.”
The source said that the defence counsel of Kamran told the court that “although Kamran was not involved in any stone-pelting case, this charge (against him) does not come under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)”.
“It is a simple legal argument that the charge being labelled against Kamran does not come under the Act,” the source said, quoting the court proceedings.
“Further, the judge heard that if stone-pelting was such a heinous crime, then the J&K government would not have given general amnesty to more than 4,000 stone-pelters in a recent decision,” the source said.
J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently ordered withdrawal of FIRs against first-time stone-pelters and at least 4,800 such cases are being withdrawn.
“It is clear that there is no evidence that Kamran was in any way involved in stone-pelting, but it makes sense that he must be released since the J&K government has withdrawn FIRs in such cases in the Valley,” the defence counsel argued.
After the arguments by Kamran’s counsel were over, the court asked the NIA counsel to present his arguments on January 3, 2018.