Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan arrested and charged under draconian Public Safety Act

34-year-old Asif was first arrested from Srinagar’s Batamaloo on August 27, 2018, accused of “harboring militancy” in Kashmir. He has now again been picked up under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA)

April 11, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Kashmiri journalist arrest
Hajra Banu, mother of Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan, shows a picture of her son on a mobile phone. (Photo: Kamran Yousuf)

After nearly four year in prison, Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan was released from Srinagar’s Central Jail on April 5 after special judge Manjeet Singh Manhas of the National Investigation (NIA) court granted him bail. He has now again been arrested by officers of a police unit called Counter Intelligence Kashmir under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA). He will be shifted to the Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu, as per the police statement.

34-year-old Asif was first arrested from Srinagar’s Batamaloo on August 27, 2018, accused of “harboring militancy” in Kashmir. His daughter was just three-months-old at the time.

While working as the assistant editor of the Srinagar-based magazine Kashmir Narrator, Sultan had written a detailed profile on militant commander Burhan Wani in July 2018. The 4,000-word article (read here) argued that the slain militant had become more dangerous for the Indian authorities in his grave in southern Kashmir than when he was alive. He was subsequently branded as a promoter of terrorism and anti-Indian narrative in the region.   

Several international rights organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists have rejected the accusations leveled against him. According to media advocacy groups, Sultan was doing a “public service and not a criminal act” through his investigative writings on political conflict in Kashmir. 

The police confiscated electronic gadgets from Sultan’s residence and sent them for forensic analysis. The findings of the analysis have not been made public. Sultan’s lawyer Adil Abdullah said that the charges against him such as “attempt to murder” and “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons” are “out of the place” and “purely fabricated”.

In August 2019, Sultan was awarded the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award in Washington DC. His case has emerged in a number of lists compiled by media groups showing media persons facing the threat of persecution.

“My son had no militant connections at all. He was arrested for the job he was doing. We demand his release, Asif has now spent more than 1300 days in prison,” Asif’s father Mohammad Sultan said.