Journalist Fahad Shah’s arrest is ‘harassment in the name of national security’ (Editors Guild)

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday condemned the arrest of Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah and called on the state administration to ‘respect democratic values ​​and end the harassment of journalists in the name of national security “.

Shah, the editor of the Kashmir Walla news portal, was arrested on February 4 for “apologizing for terrorist activities” after reporting on a meeting in Pulwama that left four people dead.

The EGI said Shah had been ‘summoned and detained several times for his writings over the past few years’, adding that his arrest was ‘part of a wider pattern in Kashmir of security forces calling in journalists for questioning. and often detaining them, because of their critical report of the establishment”.

It also noted two separate incidents: journalist Gowhar Geelani was summoned by the Shopian District Executive Magistrate to appear in court on February 7 for “acting in a manner prejudicial to the public interest” and the arrest of Sajad Gul, another Kashmir Walla journalist, for social media posts.

“The space for media freedom has gradually eroded in Kashmir. Last month, security forces encouraged some journalists in a coup against the management of the Kashmir Press Club, then later state authorities shut down the club completely, returning the land to the Department of estates,” the guild said.

Calling on the administration to respect democratic values ​​and stop the harassment of journalists, EGI demanded the immediate release of Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul. He said FIRs subject to harsh criminal laws, intimidating interrogations and unwarranted detentions should not be used as “tools to suppress the rights of journalists”.

The full statement is reproduced below.

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Editors Guild of India strongly condemns arrest of Kashmir editor Fahad Shah
Walla on February 4, 2022, for the specious motive of “glorifying terrorist activities, disseminating false
news & encouraging the general public to create [law and order] situation,” according to a police statement.
his arrest.

Shah had been questioned four days earlier for his reporting on a deadly police raid in Pulwama in late January that left four people dead. He has been summoned and detained several times for his writings in recent years. The arrest is part of a wider trend in Kashmir where security forces call journalists for questioning and often arrest them for their critical reporting on the establishment. In a separate incident, journalist Gowhar Geelani was also summoned by the Shopian District Executive Magistrate to appear in court on February 7 for “acting detrimentally to the public interest”. Last month, Sajad Gul, another Kashmir Walla journalist, was also arrested for his social media posts deemed objectionable by the authorities.

Space for media freedom has gradually eroded in Kashmir. Last month, security forces encouraged some journalists in a coup against the management of the Kashmir Press Club, then later state authorities shut down the club completely, returning the land to the Department of estates.

The Guild urges the state administration to uphold democratic values ​​and end the harassment of journalists in the name of national security. The Guild also demands the immediate release of Fahad Shah as well as Sajad Gul, and to ensure that FIRs subjected to harsh criminal laws, intimidating interrogations and wrongful detentions are not used as tools to suppress the rights of journalists. .

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