Indian authorities have arrested Sajad Gul, a 28-year-old journalist and media student, on charges of criminal conspiracy and working against national integration.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has asked Indian authorities to immediately release journalist Sajad Gul in disputed Kashmir.
The media watchdog said on Twitter on Friday it was “deeply disturbed” by the arrest of Gul, a 28-year-old journalist and media student.
It asked Indian authorities to “drop their investigation related to his journalistic work,” days after police arrested him for uploading a video clip of a protest against Indian rule.
Indian soldiers picked up Gul from his home in northeastern Shahgund village on Wednesday night and later handed him over to the police, his family said.
Initially, police said he would be released, but on Friday his family was told that a formal case was opened against Gul on charges of criminal conspiracy and working against national integration.
“We were told he has been booked, and we were not allowed to meet him,” Javed Ahmad, Gul's elder brother, told Anadolu News Agency.
If convicted, he faces life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
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#Kashmir: CPJ is deeply disturbed by reports that Kashmiri journalist @SajadGUL_ was arrested days after posting a video of a protest on social media. Authorities must immediately release Gul and drop their investigations related to his journalistic work.https://t.co/PuaSpMRZwh https://t.co/fR9Qof29eI— CPJ Asia (@CPJAsia) January 7, 2022
Freedom of press
Gul was working as a trainee reporter for The Kashmir Walla, an online news outlet, and was pursuing a master's degree in journalism from the University of Kashmir.
He "had posted a video of the protest against the killing of Salim Parray, a militant commander" before his arrest, the Kashmir Walla said.
Fahad Shah, editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla, condemned Gul's arrest and tweeted that "a legal team is working to seek his earliest release”.
Journalists have increasingly voiced concerns about harassment and threats by the police that have effectively restricted reporting after India revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomy and divided the region into two federally governed territories in 2019.
The Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of journalists in the region, has repeatedly urged the Indian government to allow them to report freely, saying security agencies were using physical attacks, threats and summons to muzzle the press.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The region is one of the most heavily militarised in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.
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