Srinagar: Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) today on World Press Freedom Day has joined in calls from local and international journalist bodies for release of incarcerated Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, who has been behind bars for around nine months now.
Aasif is currently detained at the Central Jail in Srinagar.
A statement issued by KWJA, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, said that Aasif’s continued incarceration reflects the stifled voice of the press freedom in Kashmir, where media has been cowed down by threats and intimidation by the state.
“This week his continued incarceration was described as one of the ‘most urgent’ cases of threats of press freedom around the world, by One Free Press Coalition, which was founded by a dozen news organisations- including TIME magazine- for defending journalists under attack,” KWJA stated in a press release.
KWJA claimed that Aasif has been hounded up on false and motivated charges, and through the case, the state in Kashmir has been tightening its grip on the news narrative and reining in journalists from reporting objectively.
“The state has taken to several other recourses to cow down Kashmir’s media community into submission, in which it has largely succeeded. These include the summoning of journalists, pressures on news organisations, withdrawing of government advertisements,” KWJA stated.
“Journalists in Kashmir are living in fear of intimidation, arrests, and questioning by local police as well of the National Investigation Agency, badly limiting their activities”.
While Aasif is behind bars, other journalists in Kashmir are feeling equally stifled and helpless, it said
:Last year’s the cold-blooded murder of editor Rising Kashmir Shuja’at Bukhari has added to to the fearful atmosphere prevalent in the state,” KWJA stated.
KWJA condemned the repressive measures the state is resorting to, every now and then, to stifle the voices and working of journalists in Kashmir.
“It also renews its call for the unconditional release of Aasif Sultan,” the body stated