A local court in Srinagar on Tuesday granted bail to a senior journalist and owner of a local newspaper, who was arrested by the police on Monday during a midnight raid.
62-year-old Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, Printer and Publisher of ‘Daily Aafaq’, an Urdu newspaper was arrested from his residence in Srinagar, in a case registered against him in December 1990.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Haseeb Mughal said that Qadri was arrested in a “very old case”. “TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities) court had issued a warrant against him, but he didn’t cooperate. He was produced in the court,” he said.
The case was registered during a ban on circulation of newspapers in Kashmir during the peak of militancy in Kashmir. Qadri’s news agency J&K News had allegedly distributed news and press releases issued by militant outfits.
He had been shown absconding since 1993 in the case. Three of the other journalists against whom case has been registered have passed away.
His younger brother Morifat Qadri denied police claims saying all these years, elder Qadri has been going to his office on a daily basis
“How can he be shown as an absconder? Besides, two journalists, who faced similar charges in the case, have won state awards and become legislators,” he said.
In 2017, Kamran Yousuf, a photojournalist from south Kashmir was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly indulging in stone pelting and mobilising support against security personnel. He was granted bail on by an NIA special court in March 2018.
Similarly, Asif Sultan, an assistant editor with a local magazine, was arrested by the last year police and charged with harbouring militants, months after he wrote a story about how Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani inspired hundreds of youths into militancy, after speaking with his associates.
Sultan is still in jail and his bail has been rejected by the court.
Over a dozen journalists have been killed since 1990 in Kashmir and hundreds of violent incidents have taken place where journalists have been attacked, both verbally and physically, at the hands of security forces and mobs.
Last year in June Shujaat Bukhari, senior journalist and editor of local English daily ‘Rising Kashmir’ was shot dead outside his office in Press Enclave here along with his two personal security officers (PSOs) by militants.
A journalist in Kashmir is always at risk. The pressures and pulls are many, but there is no protection or support system.