Media Freedom News India

Kashmir editor released from jail after 600 days of imprisonment

An editor from Kashmir, Fahad Shah, who had been detained for nearly two years under India's sedition and anti-terror laws, has returned home after being granted bail.

Shah, the founding editor of The Kashmir Walla, an independent news outlet in Indian-administered Kashmir,faced charges related to publishing "anti-national content."

His arrest in February 2022 sparked concerns about declining press freedoms in the region. Critics argue that cases like Shah's underscore the tightening control of the Indian government on Kashmir since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision in 2019 to revoke the region's special status and reorganise it into two union territories under direct rule from New Delhi.

In its recent bail order, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh highlighted that the newly established Special Investigation Agency (SIA) lacked sufficient evidence against Fahad Shah. Specifically, the court pointed out the inadequacy of proof to substantiate charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a stringent anti-terrorism law.

Shah faced accusations of "glorifying terrorism" and "spreading fake news" for publishing an article by Abdul Aala Fazili, a pharmacy student at the University of Kashmir. Fazili's piece reportedly discussed the Indian "occupation" and advocated for freedom in the region. Both Shah and Fazili were arrested, Fazili remains in jail.

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