Sajad Gul

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Authorities in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir have held Kashmiri journalist Sajad Gul under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act since January 2022. The act allows for preventative detention for up to two years without trial.

On January 5, 2022, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir detained Gul, a trainee reporter with the privately owned news website The Kashmir Walla, from his home in the northern Bandipora district of Kashmir, in relation to a video he posted on Twitter, news reports said. The video, which was removed, shows women protesting the killing of a local militant commander, The Kashmir Walla reported.

CPJ was not able to confirm who arrested Gul. His family asserted that the journalist was arrested by the army. However, in a January WhatsApp message, Emron Musavi, an Indian army spokesperson, told CPJ that Gul was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police, not the army.

In a statement, Jammu and Kashmir police said Gul was arrested for allegedly provoking people to “resort to violence and disturb public peace” by posting an “objectionable” video on social media and accused him of spreading disinformation “under the garb of a journalist.”

Police opened an investigation, accusing Gul of violating three sections of the Indian penal code, including being party to criminal conspiracy, making assertions prejudicial to national integration, and making statements with intent to cause, or likely to cause, public fear or alarm, news reports said. If convicted, the conspiracy offense carries a prison terms of up to six months, the assertions charge carries a term of up to five years, and the public alarm charge carries up to three years, according to the Indian penal code, which said each charge also carries unspecified fines.

On January 15, a local court ordered police to release Gul with a bond of 30,000 rupees (US$370) if he was not involved in any other crime, news reports said. Before he could be released, however, police rearrested him on January 16 under the Public Safety Act, those reports said.

The government’s Public Safety Act dossier, which CPJ reviewed, accuses Gul of being a “self-proclaimed messiah of terrorists.”

In June 2020, authorities moved Gul from Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail to the Bareilly District Jail in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about 690 miles from his hometown of Bandipora, Gul’s brother Zahoor Ahmad told CPJ by phone.

In February, CPJ joined 57 press freedom organizations, human rights groups, and publications to call for the immediate release of Gul and other detained Kashmiri journalists.

Rohit Kansal, Jammu and Kashmir government spokesperson, and Dilbag Singh, director general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment sent via messaging app.