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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 10, March 9, 2024

Repeated arrests & harassment of journalist Asif Sultan by the J& K Government - Statement by Press Club of India

Saturday 9 March 2024

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PRESS CLUB OF INDIA
1, Raisina Road, New Delhi - 110 001, INDIA
Email:- pressclubofindia1[at]gmail.com, Web: presscubofindia.org

Phone No. - 23719844
23730248
23357048
Date: - .............................

4th March, 2024

Press Statement

The Press Club of India and Press Association expresses its grave concern over the treatment meted out to award-winning journalist Asif Sultan by the J & K Government and urges the Press Council of India to institute an independent inquiry into his repeated arrests and harassment.

Sultan was first accused of harbouring and providing logistical support to terrorists in 2018, and lodged in Kashmir Central Jail for more than three years. A local court granted Sultan bail in April 2022, observing that the prosecution could not provide sufficient evidence linking Sultan to any terrorist group.

But before Sultan’s release on bail, the J&K government invoked the Public Safety Act (PSA) against him on charges of "harnessing militants" and he was re-arrested. His detention under PSA was quashed by J & K High Court in December 2023 because it found no credible evidence to charge the journalist of aiding terrorists. The government took more than two months to release Sultan, but within hours of reaching home, Sultan was arrested again on February 29 by making him an accused in a 2019 case pertaining to a clash inside the Kashmir Central Jail.

These repeated attempts by the J & K government’s to use the process as punishment against Sultan despite courts finding no merit in the state‚Äôs charges, seem to suggest a vindictive design at play that should be probed under the close scrutiny of the Press Council of India.

The Press Club of India demands that the state government adhere to the values enshrined in the Constitution, instead of harassing Asif Sultan for doing his journalistic duty. We demand the due process be followed and not abused while dealing with journalists. The government should release Asif Sultan, a recipient of the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the National Press Club of America.

Managing Committee Press Club of India

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