Kashmir: PSA case filed against journalist after bail, family said – hopes are shattered

Kashmir: PSA case filed against journalist after bail, family said – hopes are shattered


On the night of January 5, Sajjad Gul, a trainee journalist and student associated with the web portal ‘The Kashmir Wala’, was arrested from his house in Bandipora district on charges of criminal conspiracy. After getting bail in this case, he was sent to jail by the police, registering a case under the Public Safety Act.

Journalist Sajjad Gul (Photo Credits: Twitter)

Srinagar : A day after a Jammu and Kashmir district court granted bail to 23-year-old journalist Sajjad Gul in a criminal conspiracy case on January 15, a case was registered against him under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and shifted to Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail. Given.

Gul, a trainee journalist and student associated with the portal ‘The Kashmir Wala’, was arrested on the night of January 5 from his house in Hajin area of ​​Bandipora district.

He was booked under IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153B (making speeches which are prejudicial to national unity) and 505B (spreading fear in public).

The local court directed the police to release him on a surety of Rs 30,000 if he was not involved in any other offence, but he was not released.

Police claimed that Gul was named earlier this month under IPC sections 153B (making speech prejudicial to national unity or imputation), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149. (Cases related to rioting and nuisance) and 307 (attempt to murder) came to the fore.

Under the PSA, a person can be detained for three to six months without trial.

  Speaking to The Wire , Gul’s legal counsel Umar N. Ronga told that the police could not make any case against him so decided to register a case against him under this law.

He said, ‘These are all baseless cases. They cannot keep him in jail just in minor cases. The only power with the police is to impose PSA against him. They are taking advantage of this and abusing power.

Ronga believes that Gul would have got bail in the latest case as well if the police had allowed another trial.

He said, ‘These are all false cases and they know that these cases will fall flat. The sole purpose of the police is to keep my client in jail.

Ronga told The Wire  , ‘In the past the police had filed three separate cases, all of which are baseless.’ The lawyer has started preparations to file a petition in the High Court to quash this FIR.

family in crisis

Gul’s mother had prepared dishes for her on January 16, thinking that her eldest son would soon bring her home, who was waiting for her release at the Hajin police station.

Gul’s elder bai Zahoor Ahmed told The Wire  , ‘He had made all the preparations for the celebration. We were happy since morning that he would be released but had no idea that he would be kept in custody after imposing PSA on him.

Ahmed has not seen Gul for four days. Ahmed has taken care of Gul since her father’s death in 2008. Ahmed says, ‘He is like my son.’

When Gul’s family reached the police station with her bail plea, they were not given any reply. Ahmed said that he kept on chasing the policemen from room to room while they were ignored during this.

“They (policemen) treat you like stray dogs. They made us wait until a police officer told me that Gul would not be released today and I was asked to leave.

Ahmed was told that another FIR had been registered against Gul but the details were not given.

He said, ‘When I saw him, he was not looking well. He had lost weight and it was difficult to see him in that condition. The police took him (Gul) in a van somewhere. Later we came to know that he has been sent to Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu.

The family came to know about the PSA registered against Gul later and since then the family is worried.

Ahmed said, ‘He is our last hope and we have dreamed that he will do something good for the family but all those dreams have been shattered by the police.’

Despite the financial stress after his father’s death, Ahmed ensured that Gul did not miss out on education. Ahmed says, ‘He was doing well in his work but the police ruined everything.’

earlier allegations

On January 8, the Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a statement saying that they arrested Gul for allegedly inciting people to violence and disturbing public peace.

He said that Gul had uploaded objectionable videos of some women raising anti-national slogans on the day of the killing of terrorist Salim Parre in Shalimar Srinagar.

“This person is accustomed to spreading false propaganda or false narrative through various social media platforms with the intention of inciting public to violence under the guise of journalism and creating ill-will against the government to disturb public peace,” the statement said. ‘

In The Wire ‘s previous report   on Gul’s arrest, the Bandipora district superintendent of police had said that Gul had made such tweets which could have caused law and order problems in the area and the police would not allow anyone to disturb the peace. .

The Wire   reached out to the Inspector General of Police for his response in Gul’s case but could not get through to him. The news will be updated upon receipt of their reply.

freedom of the press

In the last three years, there has been a sharp increase in the cases of harassment, intimidation and arrest of journalists in Kashmir.

After the abrogation of Article 370 from Kashmir in 2019, journalists have repeatedly urged the government to allow them to report freely.

Journalists are subjected to physical assault, threats and summons from the police, which journalists in Kashmir believe are intended to strangle the press.

In January 2020, the central government had issued a media policy , giving the government more power to censor newspapers in the Valley. Its immediate effect on the local press was that many newspapers stopped reporting news that they thought could land them in trouble.

Gul’s arrest was criticized by journalists and activists around the world and there was a demand for his immediate release.

Senior journalist and author Gauhar Geelani told The Wire  that journalism in conflict zones has never been easy, but she believes the situation in Kashmir is becoming increasingly difficult.

“The career of a budding journalist was ruined with the help of these stringent laws, which reflects the current situation here,” he said. This is to suppress the freedom of the press, discourage people to choose journalism as a career and for this the case of this journalist (Gul) was used as an example.

Fahd Shah, editor-in-chief of Kashmir Wala, told The Wire  that the law was actually used to keep Gul off the ground as the administration saw her as a threat.

Condemning the imposition of PSA on Gul, he said, “He had recently joined us and he had worked with many organizations in the past. We will try to cancel his detention.

Soon after Gul’s arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded the immediate release of the journalist.

In June last year, the United Nations expressed concern over the alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation of journalists in the region.

The UN statement also referred to the Gul case apart from citing examples from other journalists in the region.

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