Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah’s custody transferred to SIA for an article published in 2011
This is the fifth case against the editor-in-chief of ‘The Kashmir Walla’.
The custody of journalist Fahad Shah, who has been detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, has been transferred to the State Investigation Agency, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
Shah’s custody was taken over from the Kupwara jail authorities for an investigation into a case related to a “highly provocative and seditious” article published in the online magazine The Kashmir Walla in 2011. This is the fifth case against Shah, who is the editor-in-chief of the magazine.
According to the police, the article was written by PhD scholar Abdul Aala Fazili, who was arrested on April 17. The first information report in the case was registered by the State Investigation Agency at the Joint Interrogation Centre in Jammu.
“Abdul Aala Fazili’s article, ‘The shackles of slavery will break’, is intended to create unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, and written with the purpose of abetting the youth to take the path of violence by glorifying terrorism,” the police said in a statement last month.
The article promoted a false narrative to sustain a secessionist and terrorist campaign aimed at breaking India’s territorial integrity, the statement alleged.
Apart from Fazli, the “unnamed editor” of The Kashmir Walla and associates have been booked under Section 13 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, the magazine said in a statement.
“For the team at The Kashmir Walla, it is yet another hard blow as we remain concerned about the health and wellbeing of Shah in the JIC in Jammu,” the statement added. “We reiterate our appeal to Manoj Sinha-led Jammu and Kashmir administration to drop all the charges against Shah and The Kashmir Walla’s journalistic work and facilitate his immediate release.”
On May 18, an order by an additional sessions judge in Jammu had said that Fazili had denied writing the article during his interrogation, The Indian Express reported.
“Therefore for the investigation agency to come up with facts, the custody of the editor-in-chief of ‘thekashmirwalla.com’ [Fahad Shah] is imperative,” the order said.
Cases against Shah
Shah had been first arrested by Pulwama Police for posting allegedly anti-national content on social media and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He was granted bail after 22 days by a National Investigation Agency court.
However, hours after he got bail on February 26, Shah was arrested again the same day by Shopian Police in another case related to provocation for riots. On March 5, he got bail but was arrested in a third case immediately.
In this case, Shah had been charged under Indian Penal Code sections that provide punishment for rioting, attempt to murder, abetment, printing or engraving defamatory matter and public mischief.
On March 11, he was charged under the anti-terror law again.
On February 6, several press bodies, including the Editors Guild, had demanded that Shah be released immediately. The Editors Guild had asked the authorities in the Union Territory to ensure that FIRs, intimidatory questioning and wrongful detainment were not used as tools for suppressing press freedom.
Also read: Rearrested after getting bail: How the law is abused to keep dissidents in jail