Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard along a street in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on October 20, 2021. Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are detaining at least three journalists. (AFP/Tauseef Mustafa)

Jammu and Kashmir authorities detain one journalist; at least two others still in custody

New Delhi, October 20, 2021 — Authorities in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir must immediately release the three journalists detained since October 8, cease harassing and questioning journalists in relation to their work, commit to allowing the media to operate freely and independently, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At approximately 7:50 p.m. on October 17, police detained Sulaiman Sath, a freelance journalist contributing to the privately owned Urdu-language newspaper Daily Gadyal, from his home in the Untoo Hamam area of Kashmir’s central Ganderbal district, according to news reports and Sath’s father, Abdul Majid Bhat, who spoke to CPJ via phone.

In addition to Sath, two journalists — Salman Shah and Suhail Dar — are detained in Anantnag district jail, according to local news website The Kashmir Walla. Dar was detained on October 8 and Shah was detained on October 12, as CPJ documented.

“The growing number of detained journalists in Kashmir demonstrates authorities’ continuous and blatant lack of respect for press freedom,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Authorities must immediately release Sulaiman Sath, Salman Shah, and Suhail Dar, and commit to allowing the media to operate without fear of reprisal.”

Sath is detained at the Ganderbal police station, according to The Kashmir Walla. Bhat told CPJ that he does not know the reason for his son’s detention.

Nikhil Borkar, the senior superintendent of police of the Ganderbal district, told The Kashmir Walla  that he would publicize the reason for Sath’s detention last night, but the news website provided no further details and CPJ has been unable to locate any public statements by Borkar. CPJ called and messaged Borkar for comment, but did not receive any reply.

In a separate incident, at approximately 10:45 p.m. on October 18, armed government forces detained Junaid Shafiq Peer, a photojournalist with the privately owned Urdu-language newspaper Tameel-i-Irshad, from his home in the Sopore area of Kashmir’s northern Baramulla district, according to news reports and his brother, Adnan Shafi Peer, who spoke to CPJ via phone. Adnan Shafi Peer said he was detained at the town hall of the subdivisional police office of Sopore district. Peer was released late last night without charge, according to two sources familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

Furqan Qadir, the subdivisional police officer of Sopore district, told The Kashmir Walla that Peer had not been arrested but was under investigation. Qadir did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.

Over the previous two weeks, Jammu and Kashmir authorities detained and released two other journalists and questioned one other, as CPJ documented.

Dilbag Singh, the director general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment on the detentions sent via messaging app.