After 9 months in jail, police detains journalist Qazi Shibli again on Eid

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South Kashmir-based editor and journalist, Qazi Shibli, has been detained by Jammu and Kashmir police in Srinagar’s Shergari police station since Friday afternoon. 

Speaking with The Kashmir Walla, one of his family members said that he had been waiting outside the police station in Srinagar since 1:30 pm for Mr. Shibli’s return but wasn’t told till 9 pm that he had been detained. 

A police official at the police station told The Kashmir Walla a short while ago that Mr. Shibli is detained. “We were told by seniors to keep him in custody and don’t know the reasons,” he said.

In a statement, the Kashmiriyat, where Mr. Shibli works, said that he “got a call from the Cyber Police station at around 2:15 PM on Thursday asking him to present himself” in the Cyber Police Station in Srinagar today.

However, it was not immediately clear if he has been charged under any offense. 

Mr. Shibli was detained under the draconian Public Safety Act for nine months in Bareilly Jail of Uttar Pradesh, Central India, after he had tweeted information about the deployment of additional troops in Jammu and Kashmir in the last week of July 2019. On 5 August 2019, the Government of India revoked J-K’s special status and clamped down in the Valley for several months.

On 13 April 2020, Mr. Shibli’s PSA detention was revoked as the jails across the country decongested amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After his release, he had exclusively spoken with The Kashmir Walla about his detention and the status of press freedom in Kashmir.

Speaking of his time in the jail in Uttar Pradesh, he had said: “All I saw the whole day were bars. On all of my sides. So, when I was told after fifty-seven days in imprisonment that someone had come to meet me, I felt like a blind could finally see all the colors.” 

In April 2020, the J-K police booked two journalists under India’s anti-terror law — Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani — for their posts on social media, which the police claimed were “anti-national”. The police also filed an FIR against a story published in The Hindu, reported by Peerzada Ashiq. Another Kashmiri journalist, Asif Sultan, who is booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act — the same law as Ms. Zahra and Mr. Geelani — remains under detention for nearly two years.

The Kashmir Walla’s founding editor, Fahad Shah, has been summoned twice for his reporting on a gunfight in Srinagar.

On the status of press freedom in Kashmir, Mr. Shibli had said in the interview: “These FIRs and arrests, including my imprisonment, are just like small threads. Ultimately it will become a web, and we’ll get stuck into it like insects. Before the web gets strong — we need to speak against it.”

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