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CPJ seeks release of Journalist Aasif Sultan

Srinagar, Sep 2: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the ongoing “detention and interrogation” of Kashmir-based journalist Aasif Sultan, who police picked up at his home in Srinagar on August 27, reports claimed.

According to a report by CPJ, Aasif has been subject to repeated interrogation by police in detention, according to his editor at the magazine Kashmir Narrator, Showkat Motta, who told CPJ that he has been able to visit Sultan in jail every day.

Police, according to Motta, have demanded that Sultan reveal the sources for a cover story that he wrote for the magazine on Burhan Wani, the Kashmiri militant leader whose death at the hands of government forces in July 2016 touched off a wave of violent anti-government demonstrations in the disputed region, according to news reports. Police have also pressured Sultan to become an informer, Motta said. Police formally arrested Sultan on Saturday, according to a police statement seen by CPJ, the report said.

“Police should immediately release Aasif Sultan from jail and halt efforts to pressure him to reveal sources or become an informer,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “By reporting on militant activity, Sultan is performing an important public service, not committing a crime.”

The report further said that according to Sultan’s father, Mohammad Sultan, Jammu and Kashmir police along with soldiers from Central Reserve Police Force raided their home on the night of August 27 at 11:15 p.m. and continued until 1:45 a.m. the next day. “They took away Aasif along with his laptop, mobile phone, and documents related to his work,” he told CPJ.

Motta said that he had held off drawing attention to Sultan’s detention for days because each day the police said they would release Sultan at the end of the day. Police also pressed Motta to describe Sultan’s political ideology, which he refused to do, he said, CPJ reported.

South Srinagar’s superintendent of police, GV SundeepChakravarthy, told the magazine Outlook that police had uncovered evidence of Sultan’s involvement in unspecified unlawful activities.

The Kashmir Working Journalist Association and the Kashmir Journalist Association issued a joint statement calling for Sultan’s release and an investigation in what they called his illegal detention, according to news reports, CPJ reported.