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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Five years in jail, Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan arrested under UAPA shortly after getting release

Sultan was released from Ambedkar Nagar jail in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, after nearly five-and-a-half years of imprisonment. He was re-arrested on Thursday evening and booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various IPC sections, including 307 (attempt to murder)

Muzaffar Raina Srinagar Published 02.03.24, 05:01 AM
Aasif Sultan.

Aasif Sultan. File picture

Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, who was released on Tuesday after being in jail for over five years, has been rearrested here.

Sultan, 35, was released from Ambedkar Nagar jail in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday evening, after nearly five-and-a-half years of imprisonment. He was re-arrested on Thursday evening and booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various IPC sections, including 307 (attempt to murder).

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Sultan’s lawyer Adil Abdulah Pandit said he had been booked in a five-year-old case related to riots in Srinagar’s central jail.

“Among other sections, he has been booked under Section 13 of the UAPA. We might file an application for his bail,” Pandit told The Telegraph.

Srinagar’s central jail had witnessed protests by inmates in April 2019 following rumours that some prisoners were being shifted. The protesters reportedly set a temporary shelter on fire but there were no casualties.

According to an acquaintance of Sultan, the FIR that was registered mentioned no names.

“He was among scores present in the jail that day. After five years, the government has booked him in the same case. Ironically, his release was cleared by the government after a cumbersome 78-day-long procedure. We don’t know what prompted his re-arrest,” he said.

Sultan is the longest-incarcerated Kashmiri journalist who spent 2,011 days in different jails across the country.

His release came 78 days after Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

Sources said Sultan reached home at noon on Wednesday after a gruelling travel from Uttar Pradesh spanning hundreds of kilometres.

“There was jubilation at his home and in his Batmallo locality (in Srinagar). He hugged his family, especially his daughter. Three hours later, the family received a call from Batmallo police station asking his father to come to the station. Sometime later, he too was called,” the source said.

“Sultan developed chest pain and headache at the police station. The police allowed him to visit SMHS hospital in the company of some cops, where he underwent some tests. Around 7.30pm, the police took him to Rainawari police station, asking his family politely to arrange clothes and food for him. It is when we realised that he might be re-arrested.”

The award-winning journalist, who worked as a reporter with the Kashmir Narrator magazine, was initially booked under the UAPA in August 2018 but was granted bail by the National Investigation Agency in April 2022 only to be booked under the stringent PSA to deny him freedom.

The special NIA judge had said he was granting Sultan bail because he had found “no direct evidence nor any substantial evidence on record that would have connected the accused” to the alleged crimes.

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