Irfan Mehraj (File photo).
After the Amnesty International, the Editors Guild of India condemned the arrest of Kashmir-based journalist Irfan Mehraj by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Srinagar on allegations of “terror funding,” calling it a gross injustice, saying the authorities made “excessive use” of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against the media persons. It said earlier journalists Aasif Sultan, Sajad Gul and Fahad Shah too were arrested.
While the Amnesty international called it a gross injustice, the Editors Guild said that “the space for media freedom has progressively eroded in Kashmir.” The Editors Guild said: “Irfan Mehraj’s arrest continues a trend in Kashmir of security forces arresting journalists because of their critical reporting of the establishment.”
The Guild urged the Jammu and Kashmir administration to stop the harassment of journalists in the name of national security. Mehraj had started his career as a journalist in 2015 and covered politics and human rights.
Aakar Patel, chair of the board at Amnesty International India, in a statement said on Tuesday: “The arrest of Kashmiri journalist Irfan Mehraj under terror charges is a travesty. The arrest is yet another instance of the long-drawn repression of human rights and the crackdown on media freedoms and civil society in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The stifling of the rights to freedom of expression and association continue unabated in Kashmir.”
“Human rights defenders such as Irfan Mehraj should be encouraged and protected, not persecuted. He must be immediately released. The repression must stop. Criminalization of legitimate human rights work is extremely alarming and the authorities must put an end to this immediately,” he said.
He added, “Indian authorities should prioritize ending impunity for the human rights violations that human rights defenders and journalists have bravely documented and exposed, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, and ensure that human rights defenders and activists can work in a safe and enabling environment without any fear of reprisals.”
Irfan, who is working as a senior editor at TwoCircles.net, has written for several publications including The Indian Express, Al Jazeera, and TRT World about the situation in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370. He also runs an online publication called Wande Magazine.
-INDIA NEWS STREAM