Sajad Gul is a trainee reporter with the portal The Kashmir Walla and a student. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Journalism from Baramulla Degree College. At the time of his arrest, he was pursuing a Masters Degree in Journalism from Kashmir University.
Life and Activism
Police had knocked on Gul’s door multiple times before finally arresting him. He was often called for questioning and reprimanded for his tweets on social media. Previously he had also alleged that his family members were also being harassed and his house was raided without a warrant, on several occasions. Soon after his arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned his arrests and demanded his immediate release. The media watchdog on January 8, 2022, stated that it was “deeply disturbed” by his arrest and asked the Indian authorities to “drop their investigation related to his journalistic work”.
In June 2021, the United Nations expressed concern about the “alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation” of journalists in the region. Besides citing examples of other journalists in the region, the UN statement also mentioned Sajad Gul’s case.
Circumstances of arrest
He was arrested on the night of January 5, 2022, from his home in the Hajin area of Bandipora district. Umair N. Ronga, legal counsel for Gul, alleged that the police could not make a case against him and consequently decided to book him under the draconian preventive detention law. Gul’s lawyer also alleged that, “These are all baseless cases. They can’t keep him behind bars only for frivolous cases. The only power they have is to level the PSA (It is a preventive detention law under which a person is taken into custody to prevent them from acting harmfully against “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order” in Jammu and Kashmir. Under the PSA, a person can be detained for a period of three to six months without trial.) against him. They are taking advantage and misusing this power. Otherwise, they would not have come up with another
Charges and Allegations
He was charged under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505B (fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code. The local court had directed police to release him against a bond of Rs 3,0000 if he was not involved in any other crime. He was not released and the authorities then claimed that his name surfaced in another FIR registered (02/2022) under sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 ( every member of unlawful assembly guilty of an offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. He was subsequently booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows preventive detention for up to two years without a trial.
A day after the Jammu and Kashmir district court at Bandipora on January 15 granted bail to Gull in a criminal conspiracy case leveled against him by the police, Gul was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and shifted to Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu.
Editor-in-chief of The Kashmir Walla Fahad Shah, who was booked under PSA and languishes in jail, told news portal The Wire that the law was used to “keep him away as he was seen as a troublemaker by the administration while he was doing his job.” Condemning the PSA charge, he said, “He joined us recently and has also worked for several organisations in the past. We will try to get his detention quashed.”