RSF calls for release of IIOJK journalist Sajad Gul

Paris, January 12 (KMS): Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Paris-based media watchdog, has called for the immediate release of Kashmiri journalist, Sajad Gul, who has been detained in a completely arbitrary manner for the past six days in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and is facing the possibility of more than six years in prison for nothing more than a tweet.

The RSF in a statement posted on its website said Sajad Gul, who was working with a news portal the Kashmir Walla, was arrested by Indian Army personnel on the night of 5 January, 2022 and was taken to police station in Sumbal town of Bandipora district.

The statement said, on 08 January, he was charged with criminal conspiracy, assertions prejudicial to India’s integration and statements conducing to public mischief under various sections of Indian penal code, which carry a possible combined sentence of six and a half years in prison.

It said Sajad Gul posted a tweet on 3 January with a video showing sporadic protests against the killing of a youth, Salim Parray, by Indian troops.

“We call on the judicial authorities in Sumbal to order the immediate release of Sajad Gul, whose only crime is to have tried to inform his fellow citizens about the realities of the situation in Indian Kashmir,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “Detaining him on totally spurious grounds is typical of India’s policy towards Kashmiri journalists, which is to treat any reporting contrary to its short-term interests as ‘anti-national’ in nature.”

The Kashmir Walla editor, Fahad Shah, told RSF, Sajad’s arrest is part of a procedure of stopping journalists from reporting incidents that the Indian government sees as problematic. But if people are angry at the Indian government that doesn’t mean the journalists are inciting them by reporting that anger, he added.

The RSF in its statement said this is not the first time that Sajad has been targeted by the Indian government, which was controlling IIOJK directly since its special status was repealed in August 2019. He and others were charged with inciting a riot in February 2021 after reporting the demolition of homes and businesses in Hajin town of Bandipora district.

It is to mention her that India is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

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