Kashmir Press Club demands journalist Sajad Gul’s release, urges police to drop charges against him
Gul was arrested after he posted a video of a family shouting anti-India slogans after their relative was killed in a gunfight in Srinagar.
The Kashmir Press Club on Monday called for the immediate release of journalist Sajad Gul who was arrested last week in Jammu and Kashmir. The journalists’ body also urged the authorities to drop all cases against him.
Gul, a student of journalism who works at the The Kashmir Walla, was arrested after he posted a video of a family shouting anti-India slogans after their relative was killed in a gunfight in Srinagar. The video showed they were protesting against the killing of alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Salim Parray, who was gunned down on January 3 in the Harwan area on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Gul has been charged under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), and 505B (fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.
In a statement, the Kashmir Press Club said that it was deeply disturbed by Gul’s arrest. The statement asserted that the arrest was aimed at criminalising reportage and journalistic work in Kashmir.
The journalists’ body expressed concerns over “harassment and threats of legal action against journalists in Kashmir” by the police. The statement added that threats, summons and arrests of the media persons have effectively restrained independent and investigative reporting from Kashmir.
After Gul’s arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists had also demanded that he be released immediately. In June, the United Nations had also expressed concern about the “alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation” of journalists in the region.
Gul himself has faced police action on multiple occasions since last year.
In February, the journalist had been charged with “rioting, trespassing, and assault” for an article he wrote for The Kashmir Walla on February 9, according to the website. In the article, the villagers of Bandipora had alleged that they were being “harassed and threatened” by Tehsildar Hajin Ghulam Mohammad Bhat over the alleged demolition drive in the area.
Later in October, Gul was summoned by the Hajin police station in Bandipora district for questioning in connection with a news report and a video he posted on Twitter.
The article, published in Mountain Ink magazine, and the video had reported the claims of the family members of a 25-year-old man who was killed in a gunfight. The family members had said that Imtiyaz Ahmad Kakroo was innocent and was killed in a “fake encounter” with the police.