New Delhi: More than 50 press freedom organizations, human rights organizations and publications wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday urging him to intervene to free the journalist Kashmiri Fahad Shah.

Shah was arrested on February 4 for allegedly “glorifying terrorist activities” and “inciting the public”, Kashmir police adding that the journalist had been named in two previous cases.

The joint letter from 58 organizations comes less than a week after the Editors Guild of India condemned the Kashmir police for arresting Shah and lamented that “the space for media freedom has gradually eroded in Kashmir”.

“[Fahad Shah’s] reporting on events in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service, not a crime, and should be protected by Indian law, the new letter reads, referring to Shah as “a journalist of high integrity.”

He also urged LG Sinha to release other Kashmir journalists who had been detained”under anti-terrorism or preventive detention laws”like Sajad Gul, Aasif Sultan and Manan Gul.

Read the full letter here:

Dear Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha,

We, the 58 undersigned press freedom organisations, human rights organizations and publications, are writing to request your urgent intervention to secure the immediate release of Fahad Shah, Editor-in-Chief of the Portal online news The Kashmir Walla, jail time, and withdrawal from all police investigations. embarked on his work as a journalist.

On February 4, authorities arrested Shah at Pulwama police station, where he had been summoned earlier in the day for questioning. The First Information Report indicates that Shah is being investigated for alleged sedition and for making statements causing public disorder and unlawful activity under the Anti-Terrorism Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Prior to his arrest, police questioned Shah about The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of a shootout between government forces and militants.

Shah is well known to many in South Asia and around the world as a journalist of high integrity. Her writing for The Nation magazine won the 2021 Human Rights Press Awards. Her reporting on events in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service, not a crime, and should be protected under Indian law.

We also urge you to organize the immediate release of the other detained Kashmiri journalists – Sajad Gul, Aasif Sultan and Manan Gular Dar – who, like Shah, were imprisoned under anti-terrorism laws or pre-trial detention in apparent retaliation for their work. .

Since the abrogation of political autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, press freedom and rights groups have documented numerous incidents of detentions and threats against journalists in the region. In view of this, the release of Fahad Shah and other arbitrarily detained journalists is a crucial step to prevent further criminalization of the profession in Jammu and Kashmir.

We urge you to ensure that the authorities drop their retaliatory investigations against the four journalists, drop all unwarranted charges against them, and allow members of the Kashmiri press to work freely without facing detention, harassment and other forms of government retaliation.

Sign:

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

King Ambedkar’s Study Circle

Ambedkar International Center

Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Channel

Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC)

Committee Against Attacks on Journalists (CAAJ)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI)

Popular Coalition C19

Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

Digipub News India Foundation

Forum Against Women’s Oppression, Mumbai

The London Story Foundation

Unlimited free press

Freedom of Expression Collective

Friends of India, Texas

German Indian Peace Alliance

Global South against xenophobia

South Asian Himal

Hindus for Human Rights

Human Rights Network

Human Rights Watch

The Humanism Project

India Solidarity Germany

Indo-American Muslim Council

Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ)

Indian Journalists Union (IJU)

Insider, Inc.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

International Press Institute

International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India)

Jammu and Kashmir Journalists Association (JAKJA)

Jacobin

Kashmiri Journalists Federation (JFK)

Justice for All, Canada

Justice for All, USA

Kashmir Working Journalists Association

The nation

Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI)

Overseas Press Club of America

PEN America

People Against Apartheid and Fascism (PAAF)

India Press Club

Program Against Torture and Impunity in Detention (PACTI)

Pulitzer Center

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Rural Indigenous Health, Boston

Scottish Indians for Justice

Semillas Collective

Sikh Human Rights Group

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA)

South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)

South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN)

South Asia Solidarity Group

Turbine bag


Read also : Editors Guild denounces arrest of Fahad Shah, says media freedom has been ‘gradually eroded’ in Kashmir