As Kashmir enters the 12th day of curfew and a complete communication blackout, the news of a local Kashmiri journalist’s arrest has triggered anxieties across the Valley. Irfan Malik, 26, working with an English local daily, was arrested by the security forces during a midnight raid at his house in Tral of Pulwama district. Malik covered South Kashmir’s Pulwama for leading local newspaper, Greater Kashmir. As per reports, the reasons behind his arrest are still unknown. Malik is reportedly himself not aware of why he has been arrested.
Amidst the massive crackdown and communication blackout in the Valley, Malik’s family travelled to the Media Facilitation Centre in Srinagar to apprise the media about the arrest. The centre, run by the Directorate of Information and Public relations, is a new set-up where media is briefed on a daily basis. “They (security forces) arrived at our home at 11.30 p.m last night. As soon Irfan came out, they told him to come with them…he was taken directly to the police station in Tral,” Irfan’s father, Mohammed Amin Malik, told The Indian Express.
As per Malik’s family members, their son too is not aware why he has been arrested. “I met him at the police station today. He (Irfan) too is not aware why he has been detained,” his mother Haseena told Indian Express. “I appeal to the police authorities to release my son, because he hasn’t done anything wrong,” she said.
Interestingly, Malik’s mother was asked whether her son had done some wrong reporting. As per Indian Express, the family met Superintendent of Police (SP) Awantipora, Tahir Saleem, on Thursday morning. “He asked us if he (Irfan) has done some wrong reporting,” his mother Haseena said. “We told him (SP) that Greater Kashmir newspaper (for which Irfan is working) is not publishing these days. SP Sahib then didn’t give a proper answer why my son has been detained and what are the charges against him.”
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary, Rohit Kansal, told Indian Express, ““We are looking into it and will come back as soon as possible.” When the media would be informed was not disclosed.
Malik’s arrest marks as the first for a journalist to be detained after the Centre in one fell swoop, revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
Currently, the Valley is reeling under enforced communication blackout and curfew. As per a report in The Wire, a police official has been quoted as saying that over 1,300, including youths, business leaders, lawyers and activists have been shifted to jails.