Jammu and Kashmir police detained journalist Qazi Shibli on July 25, 2019, after he tweeted an official order regarding the deployment of additional paramilitary troops across the region. He was held without contact with his family or a lawyer until his relatives finally located him at a jail in another state two months later.
Shibli is the news editor of Anantnag-based news website The Kashmiriyat, an outlet that covers general news in Kashmir including politics and human right issues with focus on South Kashmir, according to its website.
Jammu and Kashmir police detained Shibli on July 25, 2019, at the Saddar police station in Anantnag district, according to The Kashmiriyat. His brother Qazi Umair told CPJ over phone that the journalist was questioned in connection with his tweets the on the deployment of additional paramilitary troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The police had told us that he will be let off as soon the senior superintendent of police speaks to him,” Umair said at the time.
After August 5, when the Indian government imposed a strict communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir after stripping the state of its limited autonomous status under the Indian constitution, the family lost touch with Shibli and did not know his whereabouts, Umair said.
In late August, the family received a copy of the government order for his arrest under the Public Safety Act, according to Umair and a report published in Foreign Policy. This document, which CPJ reviewed, says that Shibli was formally arrested on August 8 for alleged separatist activity.
According to Umair, the arrest is linked to Shibli’s journalism.
On September 26, Umair met his brother in the Bareilly district jail in Uttar Pradesh, over 620 miles from his hometown of Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the arrest order, Shibli has been accused under the Public Safety Act on accusations including “waging war against the Union of India,” “creating fear and panic among common people,” being “deeply involved in disrupting the peaceful atmosphere,” and seeking “to motivate the people to work for seceding the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the union of India.”
According to Qazi Umair, Shibli was questioned about his tweets when first detained. Under the Public Safety Act, an accused person can be held for two years without trial.
The family planned to hire a lawyer to challenge the arrest order in court, Qazi Umair told CPJ in late 2019.
In late 2019, Qazi Shibli was being held in the Bareilly district jail in Uttar Pradesh, his brother said, adding that Shibli was not being mistreated and was in good health.
CPJ contacted Jammu and Kashmir government spokesperson Rohit Kansal over WhatsApp to ask about Shibli, but did not receive a response. CPJ also sent questions to the Director General of Police Dilbag Singh via WhatsApp message but did not receive a response.