Journalist Asif Sultan completes 1000 days in jail

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Kashmir journalist Asif Sultan booked under the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA) has completed 1000 days in jail today.

 He has been detained since 27 August 2018, for allegedly ‘harnessing known militants.’ His family has again refuted these claims.

Asif who has completed nearly three years in Jail has been denied bail several times.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Jammu and Kashmir police took Aasif Sultan into custody on August 27, 2018, and formally arrested him a few days later. In February 2019, police filed a charge sheet accusing him of harboring militants. He is detained at the Srinagar Central Jail as his case proceeds through the courts. 

Sultan, a journalist with the monthly magazine Kashmir Narrator, is being tried for “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in Srinagar, according to Scroll. 

Sultan’s brother Omer Sultan and editor, Showkat Motta, told CPJ in late 2020 that he has been repeatedly denied bail, even though Jammu and Kashmir amended its plea to drop the most serious charges, such as a conspiracy against the state and planning a terror attack.

According to a statement filed on 3 October 2018 before a judge in Srinagar, the state accused Sultan of being in touch with a militant group and promoting it on social media. Motta and Sultan’s family disputed this claim and said that Sultan was being targeted for his work as a journalist.

In July 2018, Sultan wrote a cover story for the Kashmir Narrator about the slain Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani, whose killing by government forces set off a wave of anti-government demonstrations in Kashmir in July 2016. Sultan’s story included interviews with non-combatant members of Wani’s militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and according to Motta, police pressured Sultan to disclose his sources for the story.

According to a judgment given by the local court when rejecting his bail on November 13, 2018, which CPJ reviewed, Sultan has been accused of aiding as well as being a member of Hizbul Mujahideen, which has been banned.

Asif has been awarded several awards for his work by several journalist bodies across the world.

Sultan also featured in TIME Magazine’s ’10 Most Urgent’ cases of threat press freedom around the world, last year.

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