Kashmiri journalist’s 5-year incarceration ends 78 days after HC quashed detention

Asif Sultan was arrested in September 2018, first in a case under the UAPA and then the PSA.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
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Around 78 days after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed the detention order against Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan under the Public Safety Act, he finally walked out of the Ambedkar Nagar district jail in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday. 

Asif was released after more than five years of incarceration – first in a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Ranbir Penal Code, and then under the PSA.           

The court quashed the journalist’s detention on December 11 last year, saying the detaining authorities “did not follow the procedural requirements in letter and spirit”. But he continued to remain in jail awaiting “clearance letters” from Kashmir’s home department and Srinagar district magistrate. 

Speaking to Newslaundry, Girija Shankar Yadav, jailor at Ambedkar Nagar prison, said despite the bail granted by the court, they “have to follow some procedure to release Kashmiri prisoners”. 

He said the procedure allegedly includes getting clearance letters from Kashmir’s home department and district magistrate, adding that Asif’s family members brought the clearance letter to the jail authorities. “The clearance letter from the district magistrate was brought to us by his family, after which he was released immediately.”

At present, about 50 Kashmiri prisoners are lodged at the Ambedkar Nagar jail in Uttar Pradesh. 

As per the 2018 amendments to the PSA, those booked under the law can be lodged in prisons outside Jammu and Kashmir and need additional “clearances” for release from jail. 

In September 2018, Asif, then a reporter with Kashmir Narrator, was arrested under the UAPA for allegedly providing logistical support to a banned militant group. 

Four years on, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court granted him bail on April 5, 2022, on the grounds that the investigation agencies failed to establish his links with any militant group. But four days later, the Srinagar district magistrate detained him under the PSA. 

Asif’s lawyer Adil Pandit said the journalist’s release was a “huge relief for him and his family.”

His father Mohammad Sultan said Asif’s daughter was “six months old when he was arrested, and now she is six years old. And she doesn’t recognise her father, but used to ask us everyday when she would get to see him. We would always say ‘tomorrow’”. 

Newslaundry earlier reported how PSA prisoners languish in jails across India over procedural delays, despite bail, as jail authorities wait for clearance letters. Read here

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