Kashmir University PhD Scholar Arrested for Writing an Article in 2011
Image Courtesy: Kamran Yousuf
Srinagar: The recently set-up State Investigative Agency (SIA) on Sunday raided the office of news organisation The Kashmir Walla and the residence of its incarcerated editor Fahad Shah following which the agency arrested a PhD scholar Aala Fazili for writing a "seditious" article for the magazine.
The SIA, in its statement, said that it is assigned with the duty of investigation and prosecution of terror-related cases in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The searches, according to the agency, were conducted in connection with FIR No. 01/2022 under section 13, 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act with sections 121, 124, 153 B and 120-B IPC of Police Station JIC (SIA) Jammu.
The SIA said that the searches for the collection of evidence were conducted in the office of The Kashmir Walla at Rajbagh, at the residence of Abdul Aala Fazili at main chowk Humhama and the residence of Walla editor Fahad Shah at Soura, Srinagar.
The agency termed the article "The shackles of slavery will break", written by Abdul Aala Fazili and published in The Kashmir Wala, as "provocative, seditious and intended to create unrest in Jammu and Kashmir."
Image Courtesy: Kamran Yousuf
The article written by Fazili, whose residence in Srinagar outskirts was also raided, was published on November 6, 2011.
"It is written with the purpose of abetting the youth to take the path of violence by glorifying terrorism, and on the other, the write-up promoted and propagated the false narrative, which is essential to sustain secessionist cum terrorist campaign aimed at breaking the territorial integrity of India," the SIA said.
Fazili, 40, is a PhD scholar in the department of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kashmir and has been actively involved in student politics for years, for which the police authorities have summoned him over a dozen times. The arrest of Fazili comes at a time when his family was preparing for the scholar's wedding scheduled in the first week of May.
In 2017, Fazili was also questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) at its Delhi headquarters in cases related to student activism and separatist politics.
The official statement also quoted various paragraphs from the article alleging that the article has used "prescriptive language with instructional intent, encouraging secessionist elements to carry out terror activities." The statement has also mentioned two scholarships, including Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) Fazili received for pursuing his PhD.
"On the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, let us all pledge in the name of the blood of our martyrs and tears of mothers and sisters: that we shall always remember their sacrifices, that we shall never stop our struggle for freedom," one of the quotes read.
The Kashmir Walla later issued a statement condemning the seizure of reporters' gadgets and other equipment at the office and Shah's residence.
The Walla team said that the officials seized the laptops of two reporters, a Mac from the multimedia department, six hard drives that had backups, and five CDs.
"They also checked reporting dairies and phones of two reporters, who reached the office during the raid. The Kashmir Walla co-operated with the officials during the raid and facilitated the formalities," according to the statement and added, "In the raid at Shah's residence, a laptop of another Kashmir Walla staffer, who was also there during the searches, a tablet device, and a voice recorder were seized."
Shah was arrested in February by Pulwama police, a month after one of his colleagues, Sajad Gul, was arrested and booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Since then, Shah was arrested four times in different cases and was finally booked under PSA on March 14. His arrest, seen as part of a larger crackdown on press freedom in Kashmir, was widely condemned by prominent global human rights bodies, press freedom advocates and editors of reputed organisations.
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