Nasir Altaf Lone: Aasif Sultan, A Kashmiri Scribe who completed two years in prison on Thursday, August 27, 2020.He was detained two years ago by police in a night raid at his home on charges of harbouring militants. The police invoked stringent sections of a controversial law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to book him. He was named in a case about a gunfight between police and militants that took place in the Batmaloo neighborhood of Srinagar city where Sultan lives.
Weeks before his arrest, Sultan had penned a cover story profiling former Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani who was killed in 2016 in a gunfight with the Security Personnel.The profile is based on Sultan’s interviews with sources or workers close to Wani.
Shortly after his arrest, police put out a press release accusing Sultan of “supporting militants” and writing “against the state”.
In month of June, the J&K administration approved the new Media Policy-2020 stating that it was meant for effective communication and public outreach.But this policy has evoked the criticism from journalists in Kashmir, local politicians and civil societies have also condemned this new media policy which is aimed to suppress the real voice from the valley.
In Kashmir, journalists are facing harassment and censorship at the hands of the state. In April, police filed cases under serious anti-terror laws against two journalists Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani for their social media posts. The police action ignited a massive backlash. Journalists are frequently summoned and questioned over stories forcing journalists to do self-censorship.
Two months after Masrat Zahra was booked under the UAPA, She won the 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in photojournalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, And recently she was awarded the 2020 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous Journalism
In July 2019, Qazi Shibli editor of The Kashmiryat was detained and questioned by police in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir, after he breaked the news about additional troop movement in J&K which followed abrogation of Article 370,35 A, he was released almost released after a year and again arrested a day before Eid Al Zaha.
The truth is state doesn’t want to world know about the happenings around the valley that is why they are invoking such policies to curb the what we can say “Real News”.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also time and again condemned and asked the Indian government to revoke and reconsider this new media policy which goes against the freedom of speech and expression which is mentioned in Article 19 of Indian Constitution.