Days after he received bail, Aasif Sultan, a journalist jailed for four years, has again been booked under the stringent public safety Act by authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, Newsclick reported.
Sultan, 35, was shifted to a police station close to his residence from Srinagar central jail and will serve further detention at Kot Balwal jail in Jammu. He was first arrested on August 27, 2018, during a night raid by the police and paramilitary forces at his Firdous Abad residence in Srinagar. He was booked under the UAPA and other sections of the Ranbir Penal Code.
The charges against Sultan, who worked as an assistant editor at a news magazine called the Kashmir Narrator, included criminal conspiracy, harbouring militants, aiding and participating in militancy. His colleagues, family and media rights bodies denied these allegations.
Before Sultan was booked under PSA, a special judge of the NIA court ordered his release on April 5.
His family, who visited Batamaloo police station, was shocked after they learned that he will continue to be in prison. “It was heart-wrenching to know that there is no recourse once the authorities want to see someone behind bars. There was no reason earlier, and that has been proved, and I believe being booked under PSA means there is no reason to keep him in jail for long,” a former colleague of Sultan told Newsclick.
Several media rights bodies and watchdogs, including the International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, have called for the release of incarcerated journalists in Kashmir, including Sultan, who was awarded the annual John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the National Press Club of America in 2019.
Sultan is the third journalist from Kashmir to be booked under the PSA since January. Earlier, the J&K police booked after a court granted him bail. A month later, on February 4, another journalist and later booked under the PSA.
Fifty-eight press freedom organisations, human rights organisations and publications earlier wrote to Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, the "immediate release" of journalist Fahad Shah.