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Court grants bail to journalist Sajad Gul after nine days in custody

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Srinagar: Sajad Gul, a trainee reporter with The Kashmir Walla, who was under Jammu and Kashmir police’s custody since last week in connection with a case registered against him was granted bail by a local court in Bandipora district on Saturday. 

Gul was arrested days after he posted a video of family members and relatives raising anti-India slogans after the killing of their kin, a militant, in a gunfight in Srinagar.

Police in a report submitted to court accused him of hatching “criminal conspiracy” on his social media account being used to disseminate information “against the national interests” on the “dictation and guidance” from Pakistan based agencies.

Police said, “he used to spread fake news and information to cause disturbance in people by such information… that people would come on streets against the country and his aim was to create hatred against India.”

As per police a case was registered against him under FIR no. 79 of 2021 and investigation was put into motion. They said that statements of witnesses were also recorded and offences under section 153-B, 506 read with 120-B of Indian Penal Code (IPC) were attracted.

One of the legal counsel’s of The Kashmir Walla, representing Gul, had filed a bail application on 10 January 2022 to ensure his release that has been admitted on Saturday (15 January 2022) by the Judicial Magistrate (Duty Magistrate) Sumbal Sonawari in Bandipora district.

Umair Ronga, the counsel for Gul, told The Kashmir Walla that “Hon’ble court of Judicial Magistrate (Duty Magistrate) Sumbal, UT of J-K, has granted the bail to Sajad Gul after hearing the arguments from both sides”.

He hailed the court for its patient hearing and prompt action. “Hon’ble court has shown that law is supreme which is highly appreciable. The Hon’ble court has utilised discretion of granting bail in favour of the alleged accused and has thereby upheld the supremacy of law,” Ronga said.

Gul was arrested on 6 Jan 2022 as per the police report. “During a personal search his iPhone 12 was seized as evidence against him. Mobile phone sent to FSL. Investigation continues,” the police report mentioned. 

Meanwhile, Gul’s arrest was widely condemned across the world by several organisations. The Press Council of India (PCI), a premier body in India meant for  preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India also had taken cognisance of the Gul’s arrest after the Jammu and Kashmir Journalists Association (JAKJA) wrote to them.

Speaking to The Kashmir Walla on 11 January, Prakash Dubey, the PCI committee member, said that they have received the letter from the JAKJA and have taken cognizance of the matter.

“We [PCI] are going to discuss the matter (Gul’s arrest). We stand in solidarity with all the Kashmiri journalists, and are thinking what can be done,” Dubey said. “We are going to pursue the complaint.”

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