Media watchdog asks India to release Kashmir journalists

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists in New York has asked the Indian authorities to immediately release a journalist in the disputed Kashmir region. The police arrested him a few days before because he uploaded a video clip protesting Indian rule.

Srinagar, India – The New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists asked Indian authorities to immediately release a journalist in the disputed Kashmir region after he was arrested by the police for uploading a video clip protesting Indian rule.

On Saturday, the media watchdog said it was “deeply disturbed” by the arrest of independent journalist and media student Sajad Gul. It wrote on Twitter that it asked the Indian authorities to “stop investigations into his journalistic work.”

His family said that Indian soldiers picked up Gul from his home in Shahgund village in the northeast on Wednesday night and handed him over to the police. On Monday, he posted a video of his family and relatives protesting the killing of a rebel commander.

Initially, the police stated that he would be released, but on Friday, his family was told that a formal lawsuit had been filed against Gul on charges of conspiracy and opposition to ethnic integration. If found guilty, he will face life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

After India abolished Kashmir’s semi-autonomy and divided the region into two federal jurisdictions in 2019, journalists have increasingly expressed concerns about police harassment and threats, which actually limit reporting .

Many journalists have been arrested, beaten, harassed, and sometimes under investigation under the anti-terrorism law.

The Kashmir Press Club, an elected journalist organization in the region, has repeatedly urged the Indian government to allow them to report freely, stating that security agencies are using personal attacks, threats and subpoenas to suppress the press.

India’s decision to deprive the region of special powers in August 2019 brought Kashmir’s journalism to a halt for several months. India began implementing a policy in 2020 to give the government more power to condemn independent reports.

Fearing reprisals from government agencies, most local media have languished under pressure. The government said anonymous online threats related to insurgents fighting against Indian rule also censored reporters.

Kashmir was partitioned by India and Pakistan, both of which claimed to own all of the territory.

Since 1989, an all-out armed rebellion has broken out in the Indian-controlled Kashmir region, seeking a unified Kashmir-either under Pakistani rule or independent of the two countries. This area is one of the most militarized areas in the world. Tens of thousands of civilians, insurgents, and government forces were killed in the conflict.