Srinagar, Kashmir: Fahad Shah, our editor who led us through the tumultuous past decade, did not go gentle into this good night.
On the morning of Monday, 14 March, Fahad was lodged in Safakadal Police Station when the police from Soura Police Station — both in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) — came to take over his custody.
This was Fahad’s fourth arrest in the last 40 days. 4 February: Pulwama police station; 26 February: Imamsahib police station, in Shopian; 5 March: Safakadal police station; 14 March: Soura police station; and, on 16 March: Kupwara District Jail.
After bails by Hon’ble courts under sedition, other charges under IPC, and India’s anti-terror law UAPA and before the bail in the last case registered against Kashmir Walla’s reporting (for details of these cases, refer here), Fahad was booked under J-K Public Safety Act (PSA) — a stringent preventive detention law that allows detention without formal charges or trial for upto 2 years. We didn’t have access to the dossier by the time this statement was published.
We, and Fahad’s family, were shocked and beyond devastated to learn about this on Monday morning. And so was Fahad.
Fahad, then 20-year-old, founded the Kashmir Walla in 2009 at the dawn of independent journalism in the Valley. Despite years-long financial constraints and challenging situations, we managed to sail through, and report, the defining decade in Kashmir’s recent history.
At the same time, he extensively reported, from across India, on a wide range of issues for dozens of international publications — including Time, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy among others. He has been the Kashmir correspondent to Christian Science Monitor, a reputed US-based publication, for nearly the same time.
Our legal team believes that Fahad’s Kafkaesque detention seems to challenge our judiciary, democratic values, and independent journalism at once. Now, they would soon approach the appropriate court to secure further legal remedies.
While we look forward to the day Fahad joins the newsroom again, his family awaits him at home. We have always come to you, our readers and friends, to find strength and support. And, in absence of our founding editor, we need you now more than ever.
We reiterate the appeal to the Manoj Sinha-led Jammu and Kashmir administration for Fahad’s immediate release and withdrawal of the PSA and all other charges against him.