Srinagar: After nine months in jail, Qazi Shibli, a south Kashmir based journalist, was released from Bareilly District Jail, Uttar Pradesh, today afternoon.
Shibli was arrested in July last year, a week before the government imposed clampdown and communication blackout. The Central government scrapped the erstwhile state’s special status and broke it down into two Union Territories: J-K and Ladakh.
Mr. Shibli was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) on 8 August 2019 for “disrupting the peaceful atmosphere and to motivate the people to work for seceding the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the union of India. breach of peace and tranquility and are hellbent upon violating the law and order in district Anantnag.”
On 13 April, his PSA order was revoked. However, due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, Shibli’s family had to get permission from the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, to travel to jail and bring him back. On Thursday afternoon, Shibli was released from the jail and is traveling back to Kashmir with a family member.
Mr. Shibli graduated in journalism from Bangalore University and his writing has been featured in multiple national and international publications. He was the editor of The Kashmiriyat news website.
In 2019, Facebook page of The Kashmiriyat was also brought down by the controlling authorities of the social networking site.
Several rights groups and defenders of freedom of expression, including Committee to Protect Journalists, followed Mr. Shibli’s case and campaigned for his release.
Earlier this week, Jammu and Kashmir Police booked two more journalists — Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani — for their social media posts, which the police claimed were “prejudicial to national integrity, sovereignty and security of India.”
Various rights groups have condemned the harassment of journalists and demanded the withdrawal of charges.