LONDON: Two editors of leading US foreign affairs magazines released a joint statement on Friday calling for the release of prominent Indian journalist Fahad Shah, who was arrested last week in Kashmir.
Shah, editor-in-chief of the local news portal Kashmir Walla, was arrested last Friday after being summoned for questioning in the southern district of Pulwama over coverage of a police raid in late January that left four people dead.
“Fahad Shah, an award-winning journalist and editor –and a contributor to our publications – was arrested in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir last Friday,” said the statement by Ravi Agrawal and Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, editors of Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, respectively. “A free press is essential to democracy; using law enforcement to silence journalists is a dangerous abuse of power.
“We urge the authorities in Kashmir to release Shah and to allow journalists in the territory to work freely without being subject to harassment.”
Police said in a statement last week that Shah was arrested for uploading “anti-national content” and had “criminal intention” to create fear among the public. Authorities also said the content amounted to “glorifying terrorist activities.”
Shah’s arrest comes a month after Sajad Gul, a Kashmir Walla contributor, was arrested over social media posts.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming the territory in full. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have clashed over the territory, and more than 50,000 people died in a revolt that erupted in 1989, according to official figures. Human rights and separatists put the toll at double that figure.
The media has always been tightly controlled in Indian-administered Kashmir, but its predicament has worsened since 2019. In the past two years alone, journalists in the scenic Himalayan valley have been threatened by militants, blinded by pellet guns fired by security forces, and murdered by unknown assailants.