Statement: Kashmir Walla editor charged with UAPA—again

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Srinagar: Fahad Shah, the editor in chief of The Kashmir Walla, has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case registered against the news magazine’s reporting from May 2020 after a gunfight in the summer capital.

Fahad was arrested in the Srinagar case (FIR 70/2020) on the evening of 5 March on the heels of the bail order in his earlier arrest. He had been summoned in this case thrice — the last in 2021 — and he cooperated in the investigation all along.

Earlier, as mentioned by The Kashmir Walla, Fahad was booked under sections 147 (rioting), 307 (attempt to murder), 109 (abetment), 501 (printing or engraving defamatory matter), and 505 (public mischief) of Indian Penal Code. However, in the report that police filed in the court for his latest bail application, the authorities noted that during the investigation three charges — i.e. IPC sections 109, 147, and 307 — were dropped. It remains unclear when the charges under UAPA were added.

Fahad was initially arrested on 4 February by the Pulwama police for the news magazine’s reporting on a gunfight in south Kashmir, under the charges of IPC 124A (sedition), 505 (public mischief), and 13 UAPA. After 22 days in custody, on 26 February, the special court under NIA Act granted Fahad interim bail. 

Same evening, Fahad was arrested by the Shopian police in a case registered against the Kashmir Walla’s reporting in January 2021. Subsequently, a week later, on 5 March, he was granted bail by the Shopian magistrate. And later in the evening, he was arrested by Srinagar police.

Writings of Fahad, the 33-year-old who founded online magazine in 2009, has featured in reputed international publications including Foreign Affairs, TIME, and Foreign Policy. He was awarded the prestigious 25th Human Rights Press Awards 2021 in explanatory feature writing for his coverage of Delhi communal violence in February 2020.

Currently, Fahad is lodged at Safakadal Police Station in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Fahad’s family and the Kashmir Walla team was taken aback by the latest developments in the case, however, we continue to repose faith in judiciary and the supremacy of law. 

As the team stands by Fahad and his family, we reiterate our appeal to Manoj Sinha-led Jammu and Kashmir administration for the immediate release of Fahad.

We really hope he joins us back in the newsroom soon.

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