India: Open letter calls for release of Fahad Shah and other Kashmiri journalists

14/02/2022
Open Letter
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February 14, 2022

Mr. Manoj Sinha
Lieutenant Governor, Jammu and Kashmir
rajbhawan@jk.gov.in
adsecy.rb-jk@nic.in
ps.rb-jk@nic.in

Sent via email

Dear Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha,

We, the undersigned 58 press freedom organizations, human rights organizations, and publications write to request your urgent intervention to secure the immediate release of Fahad Shah, editor of the online news portal The Kashmir Walla, from jail, and the withdrawal of all police investigations launched into his journalistic work.

On February 4, authorities arrested Shah at the Pulwama police station, where he had been summoned earlier that day for questioning. The first information report states that Shah is being investigated for alleged sedition and making statements causing public mischief, and unlawful activities under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Prior to his arrest, police had questioned Shah regarding The Kashmir Walla’s coverage of a gunfight between government forces and militants.

Shah is well known to many in South Asia and around the world as a journalist of high integrity. His writing for The Nation magazine was recognized at the 2021 Human Rights Press Awards. His reporting on events in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service, not a crime, and should be protected under Indian law.

We also urge you to arrange the immediate release of other detained Kashmiri journalists– Sajad Gul, Aasif Sultan, and Manan Gulzar Dar – all of whom, like Shah, have been jailed under anti-terror or preventative detention laws in apparent retaliation for their work.

Since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s political autonomy in August 2019, press freedom and rights groups have documented numerous incidents of detentions and threats to journalists in the region. In view of this, the release of Fahad Shah and other arbitrarily detained journalists is a critical step to prevent further criminalization of the profession in Jammu and Kashmir.

We urge you to ensure that authorities drop their retaliatory investigations into all four journalists, withdraw any unwarranted charges brought against them, and allow Kashmiri members of the press to work freely without facing detention, harassment, and other forms of government reprisal.

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  • Co-signatories

    Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

    Ambedkar King Study Circle

    Ambedkar International Center

    Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians

    Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha

    Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC)

    Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ)

    Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

    Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI)

    C19 People’s Coalition

    Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

    Digipub News India Foundation

    Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

    Foundation The London Story

    Free Press Unlimited

    Free Speech Collective

    Friends of India, Texas

    German Indian Alliance for Peace

    Global South Against Xenophobia

    Himal Southasian

    Hindus for Human Rights

    Human Rights Law Network

    Human Rights Watch

    The Humanism Project

    India Solidarity Germany

    Indian American Muslim Council

    Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ)

    Indian Journalists Union (IJU)

    Insider, Inc.

    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

    International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

    International Press Institute

    International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India)

    Jammu and Kashmir Journalists Association (JAKJA)

    Jacobin

    Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK)

    Justice for All, Canada

    Justice for All, USA

    Kashmir Working Journalists Association

    The Nation

    Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI)

    Overseas Press Club of America

    PEN America

    People Against Apartheid and Fascism (PAAF)

    Press Club of India

    Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI)

    Pulitzer Center

    Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

    Rural Indigenous Health, Boston

    Scottish Indians for Justice

    Semillas Collective

    Sikh Human Rights Group

    South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

    South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA)

    South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)

    South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN)

    South Asia Solidarity Group

    Turbine Bagh

  • Member organisations - India
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