Jammu and Kashmir police detained Indian freelance journalist Manan Gulzar Dar, also known as Mohammad Manan Dar, in October 2021, and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) accused him of working with terrorist organizations in violation of the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He is being held in New Delhi.
Dar is a freelance photojournalist who has covered news and conflict in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir; he has contributed to Getty Images and the Pacific Press international photo agency, according to the news website The Wire.
On October 10, 2021, police in Srinagar summoned Dar for questioning at the city’s Batamaloo Police Station and then detained him, according to that report and Huma Farnazah, the journalist’s cousin, who spoke to CPJ by phone. Officials with the NIA formally arrested him on October 22, according to those sources.
NIA officers later raided Dar’s family home in Srinagar, and seized cellphones, the family’s deed to their home, and financial documents, Farnazah said. Authorities have arrested 13 people allegedly involved in Dar’s case, including his brother Hanan, who was taken into custody on October 17 and formally arrested on October 19, according to Farnazah and news website Free Press Kashmir.
As of late 2022, Dar was being held in pretrial detention under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for conspiring “both physically and in cyberspace” and planning terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. He is also under investigation under the Indian penal code for criminal conspiracy and designing to wage war against India, according to The Wire and a government detention order reviewed by CPJ.
The accusations stem from a first information report—which opens an investigation—filed in New Delhi by the NIA in response to the killing of five people by alleged militants in early October, according to that report by The Wire.
That detention order also alleged that police seized “incriminating” documents and electronic devices from Dar and seven others who were arrested. Farnazah said that authorities asked the family why Dar’s camera contained photographs of people with weapons, which he had taken as a journalist.
Dar was taken to New Delhi on October 24, 2021, and is being held in the city’s Tihar Jail, according to Farnazah.
In February 2022, CPJ joined 57 press freedom organizations, human rights groups, and publications to call for the immediate release of Dar and other detained Kashmiri journalists.
In a charge sheet filed on April 8, 2022, the NIA accused Dar and 24 others of working in support of militant organizations. However, Dar’s lawyer, Tamanna Pankaj, told CPJ by phone that authorities lacked evidence to support this allegation, apart from claiming that Dar was a member of unnamed pro-separatist WhatsApp groups and possessed photographs of militants in his phone. His bail petition hearing was ongoing as of December 1, 2022, Pankaj said.
NIA spokesperson Nitesh Kumar did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via text message. CPJ also emailed the Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the NIA, but did not receive any reply.