Two weeks after detaining, and subsequently arresting, a journalist, Asif Sultan, Jammu and Kashmir Police has told a Srinagar court that he was “in contact” with a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, and that he used to “glorify” militants in his news reports.
The court has sent Asif to 15-day judicial remand. He has been shifted to Srinagar central jail. Asif’s family and his employers maintain that he was picked up for his reporting, and he has no militant links.
Various journalists’ associations in the Valley, including Kashmir Editors’ Guild, have called for Asif’s release and asked the police to make the charges against him public.
On Saturday, the police told the court that their probe is completed and that the journalist is not required by police any longer.
“He was in contact with Abass Sheikh (senior Hizbul Mujahideen militant from south Kashmir). (He) was playing an important role by providing him (Sheikh) all the possible help to carry out terrorist activities,” the police told the court in a written reply to Asif’s bail application, moved on Tuesday.
The police have also taken objection to Asif’s reportage in Srinagar-based news magazine ‘Kashmir Narrator’. “In journalism, he would instigate people in Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmir Valley, by glorifying terrorists associated with Hizbul Mujahideen,” the police reply reads. “In his magazine, ‘Kashmir Narrator’, he would often give coverage to Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, especially Burhan Wani, to attract youth towards terrorist organisations, especially Hizbul Mujahideen.”
Asif’s last big report — on slain Hizb militant Burhan Wani — was published on Burhan’s second death anniversary this July.
The magazine’s editor Showkat Motta told The Sunday Express that while they filed for Asif’s bail on Tuesday, the police did not respond until today. “They filed the written response today at 3.30 pm and brought him to court just 10 minutes before (the court’s) scheduled closure,” he said. “We had no time to respond to charges levelled by the police.”
Asif’s father Mohammad Sultan Saida alleged that the police are trying to frame his son.
The police have said that they have seized the journalist’s cellphone and laptop and sent it to the forensic lab in Chandigarh for examination.
Asif was picked up two weeks ago from his residence in Batamaloo area of Srinagar. While he was detained for a week at Batamaloo police station, he was formally arrested on September 1, allegedly for “harbouring” militants. Asif is assistant editor at the magazine.
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