In a first after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was scrapped by the Centre, a 26-year-old journalist working for a Srinagar-based English daily in Kashmir has been detained by security forces during a midnight raid at his house in south Kashmir’s Tral, said his family. The family said the journalist has been lodged at Police Station in Tral in Pulwama.
Irfan Malik, who works for Greater Kashmir, the largest circulating English daily in Kashmir, was picked up from his home on Wednesday night. The journalist, according to the newspaper sources, covers South Kashmir’s Pulwama district for the newspaper and is a resident of Tral in district Pulwama.
“They (security forces) arrived at our home at 11.30 pm last night. As soon Irfan came out, they told him to come with them…he was taken directly to the police station in Tral,” Irfan’s father Mohammed Amin Malik told The Indian Express. He said they weren’t allowed to meet their son last night.
According to family members, they visited Police Station in Tral on Thursday morning to meet Irfan. “I met him at the police station today. He (Irfan) too is not aware why he has been detained,” his mother Haseena said. “I appeal to the police authorities to release my son, because he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
While Kashmir is under lockdown and facing an unprecedented communication blackout, Irfan’s family had to travel to Srinagar to inform the media about his arrest. As the newspaper office for which Irfan works was shut, the family visited the Media Facilitation Centre, a centre set-up by the J-K government’s Information Department to brief media every day, and informed the journalists about his arrest.
The family said they also met Superintendent of Police (SP) Awantipora, Tahir Saleem – under whose jurisdiction Tral falls – on Thursday morning. “He asked us if he (Irfan) has done some wrong reporting,” his mother Haseena said. “We told him (SP) that Greater Kashmir newspaper (for which Irfan is working) is not publishing these days. SP Sahib then didn’t give a proper answer why my son has been detained and what are the charges against him.”
Asked why Irfan has been detained, SP Saleem told The Indian Express that he has no information about his detention. But when asked that the family say they have met him in the morning, SP Saleem said: “Yes, the family met me today and I am looking into the case.”
On Thursday evening, Jammu and Kashmir government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said they were informed about the arrest only when they arrived for the briefing. “We are looking into it and will come back as soon as possible,” he said.
Hundreds of people, mostly political leaders and activists across the mainstream-separatist political divide, have been detained since August 5, when the authorities launched a massive crackdown across Kashmir Valley after union government abrogated special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.