Islamabad, Oct 16, (Asia Free Press): Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in a statement on Friday sought immediate release of the detained journalists Salman Shah and Suhail Dar in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
CPJ also pressed upon India to cease detaining and questioning journalists about their work and commit to allowing the media to operate freely and independently.
The authorities in Indian occupied Kashmir have detained four journalists since October 8, two of whom were released after questioning.
Salman Shah is the editor of Kashmir First, the online weekly magazine of the privately-owned news website The Kashmiriyat.
Suhail Dar is a freelance journalist and contributes to the privately-owned news websites, The Kashmiriyat and Maktoob Media, and the privately-owned Urdu-language newspaper Sach News.
Shah and Dar were formally arrested by authorities on Thursday, and both are detained at district jail Anantnag. A local magistrate on Friday ordered Shah and Dar to remain incarcerated for two days, according to the local media outlet The Kashmir Walla.
The authorities summoned Dar on the evening of October 8 to the Sadder Police station in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district for questioning. He was detained by Police without divulging any reasons for his detention, according to news reports and Dar’s family members who spoke to CPJ.
Meanwhile, on October 12, policemen from Sherbagh police station detained Shah from his home in the Sheerpora area of Anantnag district for questioning, reported local media outlet The Kashmir Walla. Shah’s family has also not been informed about the police investigation until he was formally arrested on Friday.
The local police officials have accused the detained journalists of violating two sections of the Indian penal code, for “knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse” and abetment, according to The Kashmir Walla, citing unnamed sources.
The Press Council of India (PCI) in September had announced that it will form a three-member ‘fact-finding committee to investigate the allegations of harassment and intimidation of journalists in Kashmir following communication from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Ms Mufti had written to the PCI in September to appraise the Council of issues related to raids against journalists, the summons issued to them and the cases filed under controversial anti-terrorism laws, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).