RSF calls for release of Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan

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Srinagar: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday called for the immediate and unconditional release of Aasif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist working for the Kashmir Narrator monthly, who was picked up by police during a nocturnal raid at his residence on August 27.

“Detaining a journalist without any serious evidence to support the charges against him is unacceptable,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk in a statement issued today.

“We call on the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to order Aasif Sultan’s immediate release, to drop all charges and to take measures against the Srinagar police officers responsible for his arbitrary detention,” he added.

The head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said that allowing journalists to express different viewpoints will help to defuse tension in the Kashmir Valley.

Aasif Sultan, 31, was arrested on the night of 27 August when around 50 policemen descended on his home in home in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, searched it and then took him away to a police station.

“His editor said he has been subjected to a great deal of violence, including being hit in the face, in an attempt to get him to “explain his political ideology.” the statement read.

RSF issued an Incident Report on freedom of the press in India at the start of July, two weeks after Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of the Rising Kashmir daily newspaper, was gunned down as he left his office in Srinagar.

“It was exactly a year and a day ago today, on 5 September 2017, that Kamran Yousuf, a Kashmiri photojournalist recognized as such by his colleagues, was arrested and handed over to the National Investigation Agency, India’s counter-terrorism agency. He was freed on bail after six months but is still facing prosecution,” the statement issued by RSF today said.

India is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.