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Mainstream, VOL LX No 8, New Delhi, February 12, 2022

The arrest of Fahad Shah in Kashmir - Statement from Editor’s Guild of India

Saturday 12 February 2022

The Editors Guild of India

PRESS STATEMENT

February 6th , 2022

The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the arrest of Fahad Shah, the editor of the Kashmir Walla, on February 4, 2022, on the specious ground of “glorifying terrorist activities, spreading fake news & inciting general public for creating [law and order] situation,” as per a police statement post his arrest.

Shah had been questioned four days earlier for his reporting on a deadly police raid in Pulwama in late January that left four people dead. He has been summoned and detained multiple times for his writing over the past few years. This arrest is part of a larger trend in Kashmir of security forces calling journalists for questioning and often detaining them, because of their critical reporting of the establishment. In a separate incident, journalist Gowhar Geelani has also been summoned by the executive magistrate of Shopian district to appear in court on February 7 for “acting in a manner prejudicial to public interest”. Last month, Sajad Gul, another journalist of Kashmir Walla, was also arrested because of his social media posts that were considered objectionable by the authorities.

The space for media freedom has progressively eroded in Kashmir. Last month, security forces abetted some journalists in a coup of the Kashmir Press Club management, and then later on state authorities shut down the club completely, reverting the land back to the Estates department.

The Guild urges the state administration to respect democratic values and stop the harassment of journalists in the name of national security. The Guild also demands immediate release of Fahad Shah as well as Sajad Gul, and to ensure that FIRs under harsh penal laws, intimidatory questioning, and wrongful detainment are not used as tools for suppressing journalists’ rights.

Seema Mustafa, President
Sanjay Kapoor, General Secretary
Anant Nath, Treasurer

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