Those who have signed the statement include, HRW, CPJ, IPI and Kashmiri journalist organisations including JAKJA, JFK and KWJA.
Srinagar, Feb 14 (NewsDesk): The International Press Institute and 57 other rights groups and publications have demanded the release of The Kashmir Walla Editor Fahad Shah and other journalists in Kashmir.
In a joint statement, written to New Delhi appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, the groups said:
“We, the undersigned 58 press freedom organizations, human rights organizations, and publications write to request your urgent intervention to secure the immediate release of Fahad Shah, editor of the online news portal The Kashmir Walla, from jail, and the withdrawal of all police investigations launched into his journalistic work.
“On February 4, authorities arrested Shah at the Pulwama police station, where he had been summoned earlier that day for questioning. The first information report states that Shah is being investigated for alleged sedition and making statements causing public mischief, and unlawful activities under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Prior to his arrest, police had questioned Shah regarding The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of a gunfight between government forces and militants.
“Shah is well known to many in South Asia and around the world as a journalist of high integrity. His writing for The Nation magazine was recognized at the 2021 Human Rights Press Awards. His 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 arrange the immediate release of other detained Kashmiri journalists– Sajad Gul, Aasif Sultan, and Manan Gular Dar – all of whom, like Shah, have been jailed under anti-terror or preventative detention laws in apparent retaliation for their work.
“Since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s political autonomy in August 2019, press freedom and rights groups have documented numerous incidents of detentions and threats to journalists in the region. In view of this, the release of Fahad Shah and other arbitrarily detained journalists is a critical step to prevent further criminalization of the profession in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We urge you to ensure that authorities drop their retaliatory investigations into all four journalists, withdraw any unwarranted charges brought against them, and allow Kashmiri members of the press to work freely without facing detention, harassment, and other forms of government reprisal.”
The groups and pubications that have signed the letter include Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Ambedkar King Study Circle, Ambedkar International Centre, Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC), Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI), C19 People’s Coalition, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Digipub News India Foundation, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai, Foundation The London Story, Free Press Unlimited, Free Speech Collective, Friends of India, Texas, German Indian Alliance for Peace, Global South Against Xenophobia, Himal Southasian, Hindus for Human Rights, Human Rights Law Network, Human Rights Watch, The Humanism Project, India Solidarity Germany, Indian 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, Journalist Federation of Kashmir (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), Press Club of India, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Pulitzer Centre, 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 Bagh.