SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) and the Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) on Saturday said they were shocked and outraged to learn that Srinagar-based journalist Aasif Sultan was kept under illegal detention at Police Station Batamaloo for the past six days.
“We demand his immediate release from illegal custody, and action against police officials in charge of the station and SP South Srinagar for keeping a journalist under illegal detention for a week,” reads the joint statement issued by the two associations.
“We have learnt that Sultan is being questioned for his report on slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, published in a recent issue of Kashmir Narrator, and has been asked to report his sources to police. Apart from the mistreatment meted out to him in custody, he is also being asked questions about his ‘political ideology’,” the statement added.
Quoting the editor of Kashmir Narrator, Showkat Motta, the statement said that police had been delaying Sultan’s release on hollow excuses. Rather than releasing Sultan at the earliest, SP South Srinagar GV Sundeep Chakravarthy had questioned Sultan about his “political ideology”, Motta said.
“I thought I will resolve the issue with them amicably and was trying to avoid confrontation but they (police) are prolonging his illegal detention,” Motta said. “They are asking him who he has talked to, why he has done this and that story. They are discussing headlines with him in lock-up and pressurising him to become a police source.”
The statement said that it is no secret that police and intelligence agencies have been trying their best to police the media in Kashmir, and harassing media organisations and journalists has been a routine.
“We are seeking release of Sultan at the earliest and ask the government and police chief to explain the laws and rules under which he has been kept in lock-up for the past six days,” the journalists’ associations said in their statement.
The associations also demanded disciplinary and legal action against police officials for violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.