The growing repression in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) is evident. More than a year after the unilateral abrogation of J-K’s semi-autonomy, there still are hundreds of Kashmiris languishing in jails across the country. Habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions have piled up in the courts, leaving hundreds stuck in a rigid system without judicial remedy. There is also growing intimidation of the press and free speech in Kashmir. The lack of accountability in Kashmir is today the most pronounced in its tumultuous history, and resultantly the public’s faith in the administration is, perhaps, at its lowest. In the backdrop of this, it should not be difficult to understand why Kashmiris are ever more skeptical of the government.
For the past years, the case of Aasif Sultan, a journalist by profession, has dragged slowly in the courts. While Mr. Sultan has been accused, by the police, of complicity with militants, Kashmir is no stranger to the cases of several young Kashmiris being accused of militant links, only to be acquitted after spending several years in prisons across the country. In the last few months alone, two Kashmiri men have returned home after years of detention and are struggling to restart their lives in their estranged home. The bad faith by the administration, including the police, towards the press has also made it difficult to repose faith in the investigation process. Mr. Sultan is currently lodged in Central Jail Srinagar, where the COVID-19 pandemic has spread its roots. We demand Mr. Sultan must be released from the jail immediately.
The editorial appeared in our 31 August – 6 September 2020 print edition.