SRINAGAR: On Thursday, the Jammu Kashmir High Court overturned the Public Safety Act of Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah, who has been detained at Kot Balwal jail in Jammu since June 2022, nearly 300 kilometres away from his home in Srinagar’s Soura. Despite calls from organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for his release, Fahad has remained in detention for over a year.
Fahad was initially arrested by Pulwama Police on February 4, 2022, for social media posts that were deemed to glorify terrorist activities and harm the image of law enforcement agencies, as well as cause ill-will and disaffection towards the country.
Although he was granted bail in that case on February 26, he was arrested again by Srinagar police on March 5 in connection with a report on his news portal from January 2021, and was granted bail again on March 14 before being moved to Kupwara District jail on March 16. He was later shifted to Kot Balwal jail on June 9, after being booked under the Public Safety Act.
In the PSA dossier submitted to the District Magistrate of Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir police accused Fahad of propagating stories that were in line with ISI/separatist propaganda, posting anti-national content, and glorifying stone pelters, terrorists, and separatism.
The dossier also claimed that Fahad’s news portal, The Kashmir Walla, published stories that were against the interest and security of the nation, and that they mostly highlighted the allegations of the Kashmir conflict and the “Indian state’s highhandedness.”
Despite securing bail twice before, Fahad was arrested for the third time and booked under a fresh PSA case on Monday. The police described Fahad as an “instigator” and accused him of working against the ethics of journalism by posting anti-national content that had a negative impact on the sovereignty and unity of the country. The PSA dossier concluded that Fahad could pose a serious threat to the security of J&K by way of his unlawful activities. (KDC)