Kashmir journalist Asif Sultan gets bail over two months after re-arrest under PSA

The journalist was released in February this year after five years of jail and rearrested a day later.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Asif Sultan

Asif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist incarcerated under the anti-terror UAPA and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act since August 2018, has been granted bail by a special court. 

This comes about two months after the journalist was granted bail by a Srinagar court and re-arrested a day later under the PSA. The bail was granted following more than six years of incarceration on accusations of providing logistical support to a banned militant group. 

He was released after a wait of 78 days, and prison authorities had told Newslaundry that the delay was because of the requisite “clearance letters” from Kashmir’s home department and Srinagar district magistrate. 

Before this, he was granted bail in April 2022 but detained under the PSA even before he could be released. 

In his May 10 order, special judge Sandeep Gandotra said that the bail was granted on the grounds that police had arrested Sultan “without any reason or rhyme…he is innocent and has not committed any offence of whatsoever in nature”. 

The order said that the journalist had been facing incarceration for years “without any reasonable justification” as “evident from the circumstances” of the case and “how could a person commit a crime when he is already going through the detention and is a peaceful citizen”. 

In December last year, another court had quashed the journalist’s detention, saying the detaining authorities “did not follow the procedural requirements in letter and spirit”. 

A BBC report cited his colleagues at Kashmir Narrator, as saying that the journalist was targeted over his article about militant leader Burhan Wani’s death which had sparked protests.

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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Update at 5:40 pm on May 15, 2024: This report erroneously attributed the judgment to Mohammad Syed Shah. It was issued by Sandeep Gandotra. The error is regretted.

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