IJU condemns illegal detention of scribe

NEW DELHI, Sep 3: The Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) has strongly condemned the harassment and weeklong police custody of assistant editor Aasif Sultan of the Kashmir monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator since last Saturday.
In a press statement, the IJU said the mischievous action was based on fabricated charges made out by the police about Sultan’s alleged “involvement in militancy-related incidents” in the Kashmir valley.
According to press reports, Sultan was picked up during a late-night raid at his home in Batamaloo area in Srinagar on 27-28 August and produced before the chief judicial magistrate’s court, which remanded him to police custody for a week.
Both Sultan’s family and his editor Showkat Motta have denied the charges and in fact said the police was pressurizing him to act as their “informer” as they considered him to be “a resourceful person.”
Taking strong umbrage at the high-handedness of the police, the IJU said taking Sultan into custody “smacks of a bigger agenda of the authorities to silence journalists and the media in the troubled state.”
It also took note that Sultan’s detention was illegal as no case had been filed against him and the police had hoodwinked the family by saying they would release him but instead produced him in court, seeking his custody.
The IJU slammed the police for falsely charging Sultan for “his complicity for harbouring known terrorists involved in series of terror crimes,” and said its actions were a clear attack on the freedom of press.
The union also questioned the authenticity of the claims of the police that “questioning and searches had led to incriminating materials.”
IJU President SN Sinha, Secretary General D Amar and IFJ Vice-President Sabina Inderjit said Sultan’s arrest was reminiscent of the police accusing Kashmiri photo-journalist Kamran Yusuf, who had been kept in jail for long and released on bail following uproar in and outside the country.
They also lambasted the police for not being able to apprehend the killers of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari and said “instead of muzzling the press, your energy should be devoted to ensuring safety of journalists.”
The IJU urged the new Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik to look into the case urgently and ensure that Sultan is released immediately, as he should not be a party to the illegal arrest.
A free press, it said, is vital in the state, if his (the governor’s) aim is to usher in normalcy.