Srinagar: “[You] may plan some major terror act”; “Over Ground Worker [OGW] of banned Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind”; “aiding the new self styled terrorist outfit namely TRF” — these are among the several accusations brought against journalist Aasif Sultan for his latest arrest, as per the Public Safety Act (PSA) dossier in possession of The Kashmir Walla.
The document, undersigned by District Magistrate Srinagar, states that Sultan was actively disseminating “anti-Indian sentiments” through his stories and had “radical ideology right from childhood”.
Sultan was arrested under an anti-terror law on 27 August 2018 on accusations of “harnessing known militants”, a charge repeatedly rejected by his family. On 5 April, after nearly four years in prison, he was granted bail and subsequently booked under the stringent preventive detention law of Kashmir. The bail order is also in possession of The Kashmir Walla.
“Under the guise of said profession … [you have] been found advocating the idea of separatism through articles, thus clearly trying to advance your own radical ideology,” the dossier, where Sultan is designated as an OGW, reads.
The dossier states that the “normal law” was insufficient “to stop him from indulging in anti-national activities”.
The dossier said that he [Sultan] came in contact with cadres of Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind (AGHU), a militant outfit, who motivated him to work for the outfit as Over Ground Worker (OGW) to provide logistic support.
“Over the recent past, you have followed a selective space/particular pattern of disseminating anti-India sentiment in a very subtle manner,” the dossier reads. “You got rapidly motivated … and started sharing all sensitive information regarding movement of police and security forces in the area. … You are also a member of Whatsapp group Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind.”
The dossier further said that off late Sultan has been found to be aiding the new self-styled “terrorist outfit namely TRF and JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammad]”, which are a potent threat to the maintenance of security of UT of J-K.
“Having radicalized thoughts in short span of time you became a staunch OGW of your area, besides preaches/spreads/ propagates terrorist ideology in the area and motivated youth for joining unlawful activities in the area,” it said.
Quoting the earlier case, where Sultan is one of the accused, the dossier reads: “The investigation of said case has been proved against the accused and charge sheet presented before the Court. However, you have been enlarged on bail in the said case.”
The dossier said Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, has further reported that there are technical inputs and information received from reliable sources that “Sultan is planning to again indulge in illegal anti-national activities and may plan some major terror act which will be threat to the security of UT of J-K.”
Sultan’s lawyer Adil Pandit told The Kashmir Walla that the accusations against his client are “absurd” and an “onslaught on journalism”.
“When Sultan was arrested he was accused of being an associate of Hizbul Mujahideen and now after four years in jail, he is affiliated with AGHU and TRF,” Pandit said. “I wonder when and how he left HM and joined AGHU and TRF from jail.”
“[The accusations] are just to keep him behind the bars like other journalists,” Pandit added.
The dossier also notes one of the Sultan’s last stories, a profile of Burhan Wani, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. The story was published in Kashmir Narrator, a monthly magazine in Srinagar, now shut.
“Your stories mostly highlight the allegations that of Kashmir conflict and Indian state highhandedness,” the dossier reads. “Each heading of your story highlights the propaganda content you seek to spread.”
The dossier said that Sultan has been found posting content and news which can cause religious and regional discrimination which by no means is good for unity of the country.
“You modus operandi is to carry stories which are based entirely on the victimhood narrative that portrays anti-India sentiment, glorifies stone pelters, terrorists, and justifies separatism/violence,” the dossier mentioned in Sultan’s grounds of detention.
Pandit said that after being granted bail, Sultan was in Counter Intelligence Kashmir’s detention for one day and was later shifted to the Batamaloo police station for four days before being booked under the PSA. “He was in illegal detention for four days in the police station. There was no justification for his arrest after being granted bail,” he said.
The dossier reads that though the situation is returning to normalcy, law and order problem is still looming at large, and thus “there is every apprehension that if the disgruntled elements like you [Sultan] given liberty to move freely having significant potential to disrupt public order within the Kashmir valley particularly in Srinagar district”.
“The people of the area are highly terrorized by you and live in an atmosphere of threat due to your activities. You [Sultan] and your other anti-national elements have formed a gang with aim and object to disturb peace and tranquility besides paving a way to secessionist elements to play with sentiments of common man,” it said.
Currently, Sultan is lodged in Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu division.