Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan has been granted bail by a special court in Srinagar in connection with a five-year-old case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The case pertains to an incident of rioting at Srinagar’s Central Jail in 2019, when a group of inmates allegedly set fire to a few barracks and threw stones at the prison staff.

Sultan was arrested in the case on February 29, two days after he was released from detention under the Public Safety Act.

The Public Safety Act allows authorities to hold individuals in custody without trial for up to two years on grounds of national security and up to a year to maintain public order.

In its order on May 10, the special court under the National Investigation Act in Srinagar said that the police were given sufficient time of 72 days to interrogate Sultan in custody.

“The accused/applicant was already under PSA [Public Safety Act till February 2024,” said the court. “Further, it has not been brought to the notice of this court that the conduct of accused person/applicant in judicial custody is such that does not warrant the release on bail. The further detention of the accused person/applicant in the custody shall not serve any purpose.”

Judge Sandeep Gandotra also said that the chances of Sultan fleeing Jammu and Kashmir are remote as he is a permanent resident of the Union territory. The court granted him bail and directed him to furnish a bail bond worth Rs 1 lakh.

Additionally, Sultan was directed to appear before the investigating officer whenever required and provide them with the mobile numbers issued in his name along with telecom networks.

On February 27, Sultan walked out of Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar district jail, more than two months after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention citing procedural lapses.

Despite the High Court’s ruling, Sultan had not been released as “clearance letters” from Kashmir’s home department and Srinagar district magistrate were awaited.

Sultan was detained under the preventive detention law in April 2022, days after a court granted him bail in another case in which he had been in jail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act since August 2018, for allegedly harbouring militants.

However, soon after his release from the Ambedkar Nagar district jail, he was summoned to Srinagar’s Rainawari police station and later arrested in a case filed by Nowhatta police station