The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists asked Indian authorities to immediately release a journalist in Kashmir, days after police arrested him for uploading a video clip of a protest against the killing of a rebel commander.
The media watchdog on Saturday said it was “deeply disturbed” by the arrest of Sajad Gul, an independent journalist and media student. It wrote on Twitter it was asking Indian authorities to “drop their investigation related to his journalistic work.”
Indian soldiers picked up Gul from his home in northeastern Shahgund village on Wednesday night and later handed him over to the police, his family said. He had posted a video of family members and relatives protesting the killing of a rebel commander on Monday.
Initially, police said he would be released but on Friday, his family was told that a formal case was opened against Gul on charges of criminal conspiracy and working against national integration. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment or even death penalty.
Journalists have increasingly voiced concerns about harassment and threats by the police that have effectively restricted reporting after India revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomy and divided the region into two federally governed territories in 2019.
Many journalists have been arrested, beaten , harassed and sometimes investigated under anti-terrorism laws.
The Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of journalists in the region, has repeatedly urged the Indian government to allow them to report freely, saying security agencies were using physical attacks, threats and summons to muzzle the press .