Srinagar: Family members of journalist Asif Sultan, who was arrested from his home in Batamaloo Srinagar in August last year and two days ago charged with “harbouring militant” who killed a police constable, have termed the charges against him as baseless and fabricated.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, Asif’s father Mohammad Sultan said that he has full faith in the judiciary and the truth will come out very soon.
“Firstly I have faith in Allah and then in the judiciary. Truth shall prevail,” he said, adding, “We have not met anyone to seek his release. We will knock on the door of judiciary directly.”
J&K Police this Thursday filed a formal charge sheet in a Srinagar court accusing 10 persons, including Asif Sultan, of “hatching a criminal conspiracy for the militant act, harbouring militant, and giving support to the proscribed organization besides substantive offences of law.”
“It was about 11.15 pm that the policemen began searching our house. There were almost 60 members of police and paramilitary and we were terrified,” Sultan said.
Asif Sultan was working for the magazine Kashmir Narrator as Assistant Editor when he was arrested. “I never raised any question on my son’s decisions. He wanted to pursue masters in mass communication and I never said no to it,” Mohammad Sultan said.
“This was in the destiny of my son. Our family has suffered, even the health of my son is not good, but we have not lost hope. We have full faith in judiciary that they will do justice,” he added.
Local as well as international journalist bodies have condemned the police’s arrest and subsequent pressing of charges against Asif Sultan. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called upon the police to immediately cease all legal proceedings against Asif Sultan and release him from jail.
Asif Sultan, along with nine other individuals, has been charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In a statement, Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator from Washington DC, has said: “Filing terrorism-related charges against journalist Asif Sultan, despite a complete lack of evidence, marks a terrible injustice and further undermines press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir. Is it so hard to understand that journalists, in the normal course of their work, must make contact with the people they write about?”
Sultan has been jailed since August 27, 2018, soon after he wrote a story for Kashmir Narrator on slain militant commander Burhan Wani.