19.1 C
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

‘This is simply wrong’: apex body of US journalists demands release of Kashmiri scribe

An apex body of journalists in the United States has demanded the release of a Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, who remains prisoned in Srinagar, on charges of helping pro-freedom militants, for over two years now. 

In a statement, the National Press Club of the United States, said: “Sultan, a writer for the Kashmir Narrator, was arrested in August 2018 on an unwarranted charge.”

Sultan was arrested on the intervening night of 27 and 28 August in 2018 on charges of providing support to militants, an allegation his family strongly refutes. The accusations were also rubbished by his colleagues as well, who said the police action was meant to “intimidate not just Aasif, but the entire journalist fraternity in Kashmir.”

“He is at risk of contracting Covid-19 in crowded prison conditions. His father has a heart condition, and his entire family is distraught,” the US body of journalists, which has over 3000 members, said.

The National Press Club recognized Sultan with a 2019 John Aubuchon Press Freedom honor, singling him out among the world’s many journalists under duress, “because his mistreatment was so egregious and because he was one of many journalists and citizens whose rights were abused in Kashmir.”

“Sultan remains in prison, and that is simply wrong. All he did was his job,” the statement issued on behalf of National Press Club President Lisa Nicole Matthews and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane, said. 

“On behalf of journalists everywhere, we say: it is past time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do what is necessary to allow Sultan to rejoin his family,” said the world’s leading professional organization for journalists which was founded in 1908.

A court in Srinagar is scheduled to hear Sultan’s case on February 26. 

Before his arrest, Sultan had done a story titled ‘The Rise of Burhan Wani’; he was then working for a Kashmir-based magazine Kashmir Narrator.

Sultan’s friends and colleagues say it was his stories and profile of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani that caught the attention of the authorities.

“He was simply doing his job. Haven’t militants been interviewed previously? Aasif had just done a profile of Burhan Wani,” one of his colleague who wished to remain anonymous had told the media last year.

The police claims Aasif was harbouring militants at his residence. They also claimed to have found a letter-head belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen at his home.

The incarcerated journalist got married in 2016 and has a two-and-half-year old daughter.

According to his father, Sultan inclination towards journalism began early. Aasif had got through medical college, but decided to pursue journalism instead.

In fact, he also qualified for three different fields — masters in library sciences, Islamic Studies and journalism — at the University of Kashmir, but opted for journalism, his father had said.

Latest news

Please email your videos, stories and opinions to [email protected] and we will publish the selected ones on our news portal.

Related news