Bigger agenda is to silence journalists, says Indian Journalists Union
Srinagar: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the arrest of Asif Sultan and demanded his immediate release. “Indian police arrested and detained the assistant editor of Kashmir Narrator over alleged militancy crimes and held him for six days without charge,” the IFJ said in a statement.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The arrest and charge against Asif Sultan for his reporting is deplorable and unacceptable. We demand his immediate release and urge the Indian government to critically address the deteriorating situation for media workers in Kashmir who are increasingly being targeted for doing their job.”
“Police arrested Sultan for questioning at his home in Jammu and Kashmir on the evening of August 27. He was illegally detained for six days and was questioned about stories he published in the magazine,” the IFJ said in its statement, adding, “Police also seized his laptop, cell phones and other documents.”
“Sultan is not the first journalist in Kashmir to be arrested for dubious charges of militancy involvement. Photojournalist Kamran Yousuf was detained for more than six months before finally being released on bail in March, 2018. Kashmir Observer daily’s Aqib Javed Hakim was also summoned to New Delhi and interrogated on July 14 and 15 this year over an interview with a separatist leader,” the IFJ noted.
The federation said that the situation for journalists in Kashmir remains grim, particularly following the June 14 assassination of Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir, outside his office by unidentified gunmen.
The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) also issued a statement through its secretary-general, D Amar, which said: “Taking Sultan into custody smacked of a bigger agenda of authorities to silence journalists and media in the troubled state. Sultan’s detention was illegal as no case had been filed against him and the police had hoodwinked the family by saying they would release him, but instead produced him in court seeking his custody.”
The IJU slammed the police for falsely charging Sultan and went on to say these actions were a clear attack on freedom of the press.