Manan Dar

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Jammu and Kashmir police detained Manan Gulzar Dar, also known as Mohammad Manan Dar, in October 2021, and the National Investigation Agency accused him of working with terrorist organizations. 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, 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 In a phone interview. Officials with the National Investigation Agency formally arrested him on October 22, according to those sources. 

The National Investigation Agency is investigating Dar for allegedly working for terrorist organizations to radicalize and recruit Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir to carry out terror activities, his lawyer Satish Tamta told CPJ via phone. 

On October 13, National Investigation Agency officers 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.

Dar is under investigation 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 the Indian state, according to The Wire and a government detention order reviewed by CPJ.

The accusations stem from a First Information Report–the primary step in an Indian police investigation–filed in New Delhi by the National Investigation Agency 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 on October 22. 

Farnazah told CPJ that authorities asked family why Dar’s camera contained photographs of people with weapons. In July 2021, The Guardian featured a photograph by Dar in its “Twenty photographs of the week” section showing the aftermath of an encounter between armed forces and militants in Kashmir, which he had covered as a journalist. 

Dar was taken to New Delhi on October 24, and is being held in the city’s Tihar Jail, according to Farnazah.

Tamta told CPJ on November 5 that the journalist was ordered to remain in judicial custody for 30 days, and had not been formally charged with a crime. Authorities have not revealed specifics of Dar’s alleged crimes, Tamta said. 

Farnazah told CPJ that the family has been repeatedly denied access to Dar from the day he was detained. 

“For the longest, we didn’t even know [Dar and his brother’s] whereabouts. Every day the police claimed that they would be released the next day until one day we were told by the police that they are in NIA custody and are being sent to Delhi,” she said. 

On November 3, Dar was allowed a two-minute phone call with his family, Farnazah added. 

National Investigation Agency spokesperson Jaya Roy did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via text message. CPJ also emailed the Home Ministry, which oversees the National Investigation Agency, but did not receive any reply.