Statement: Fahad Shah’s custody taken over by SIA Jammu as arrest saga continues

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Srinagar: On Friday, Fahad Shah was arrested by the State Investigation Agency (SIA) for questioning in a case while he was detained under the Public Safety Act in the Kupwara Jail.

Shah’s custody was taken over from the Kupwara jail authorities for the investigation into the FIR number 01/2022 registered by the SIA at the Joint Interrogation Centre, in Jammu, against an op-ed written by a Kashmiri scholar Abdul Aala Fazili in 2011. 

This is the fifth time Shah has been arrested consequently since 4 February 2022, or in the last 108 days. 

As per FIR in this case, seen by The Kashmir Walla, Fazili has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) sections 13 and 18 and sections 120B, 121, 124, and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Unnamed editor of The Kashmir Walla and associates have been booked under sections 13 and 18 of the UAPA and section 120B of the IPC.

Shah was initially arrested by the Pulwama police on 4 February, under sedition and anti-terror law, after The Kashmir Walla reported the events of a gunfight between the government forces and militants in south Kashmir. On 26 February, he was granted bail by an NIA court in Srinagar. However, he was immediately re-arrested by the Shopian police in a case registered against the reporting in January 2021. 

On 5 March, he was granted bail by a Shopian judicial magistrate – and was subsequently re-arrested again by the Srinagar police in a case registered for The Kashmir Walla’s reporting in July 2020. A day before the bail hearing in this case, on 14 March, Shah was detained under the stringent PSA and was lodged in the Kupwara Jail.

Shah, who founded The Kashmir Walla in 2009, is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in several reputed international publications, including Time, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic. He is also a correspondent for the US-based Christian Science Monitor.

For the team at The Kashmir Walla, it is yet another hard blow as we remain concerned about the health and wellbeing of Shah in the JIC in Jammu. We reiterate our appeal to Manoj Sinha-led Jammu and Kashmir administration to drop all the charges against Shah and The Kashmir Walla’s journalistic work and facilitate his immediate release.

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