Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah’s Public Safety Act has been quashed by Jammu Kashmir High Court on Thursday.
Fahad is currently lodged at Kot Balwal jail of Jammu, where he has been lodged since June 2022, a prison nearly 300 kilometers away from his residence in Srinagar’s Soura.
Several organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had called upon the Indian Government to release the incarcerated journalist, however, despite a year having passed since his arrest the journalist continues to remain under detention.
Pertinently, on February 04 2022, Pulwama Police arrested him for social media posts “tantamount to glorifying the terrorist activities and causing dent to the image of law enforcing agencies besides causing ill-will & disaffection against the country.”
Later, on February 26, when he secured bail in the case, he was taken to Imam Sahib police station in Shopian district, after being arrested in a case registered against a report carried by his portal in January 2021.
Subsequently, a week later, on March 05, Shah was granted bail by the Shopian magistrate. And later in the evening, he was arrested by Srinagar police.
Later, on March 14, Fahad was shifted to Soura police station.
On March 16, Fahad was moved to the Kupwara District jail and then on June 09, he was shifted to Kot Balwal jail after he had been earlier booked under the Public Safety Act.
In the many allegations leveled against journalist Fahad Shah in the Public Safety Act (PSA) dossier, submitted before the District Magistrate of Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir police has stated that Fahad was “Propagating stories in a particular selective narrative which is in line with the ISI/separatist propaganda.”
The dossier also mentions “posting anti-national content,” as one of the allegations.
J&K Police has alleged that Shah’s ‘modus operandi’ was to carry one or two stories per month which were based “entirely on the victimhood narrative that glorify stone pelters, terrorists and justify separatism and violence.”
It is pertinent to mention that journalist Fahad Shah, the editor of a Kashmir based media organization ‘The Kashmir Walla’ was arrested for the third time despite securing bail from courts twice. On Monday, he was booked under a fresh PSA case, after getting bails in two UAPA cases.
The dossier, referring to Fahad as an ‘instigator,’ says that Fahad has been found to be “working against the ethics of journalism” and misusing the profession “by posting anti-national content which has a multidimensional adverse impact on sovereignty and unity of country.”
The PSA dossier filed against Fahad says that his news portal, The Kashmir Walla, posts stories that are against the interest and security of the nation, and that they mostly highlight the allegations of Kashmir conflict and ‘Indian state’s highhandedness.’
“Through your online news portal, you are constantly propagating stories in a particular selective narrative which is in line with the ISI/separatist propaganda over the last two years you have followed a selective/particular pattern of disseminating anti-Indian sentiment in a very subtle manner though some of the stories are brazenly proactive as well,” said the dossier.
Further, the dossier goes on to say, “Substantive laws have been invoked against you but after every release you did not mend your ways despite being given many chances with the hope that you may not indulge in such activities further.”
The police said that Fahad could “cause serious damage and pose serious threat” to the security of the Union Territory of J&K by way of his unlawful activities.