Editors Guild of India on Wednesday expressed concern over the use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against journalists and urged the administration to respect democratic values and stop their harassment in the name of national security.
“Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned about the excessive use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against journalists, most recently, in the case of the arrest of Irfan Mehraj, a Kashmir-based journalist, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“According to reports, on the afternoon of March 20, Irfan was called by an investigator on his mobile phone and told to come for a few minutes to the local NIA office in Srinagar. Thereafter, he was arrested and subsequently shifted to Delhi,” the Guild said in a statement.
Irfan has been booked under the draconian UAPA. According to the NIA, Irfan was previously summoned to Delhi in a case related to “NGO terror funding” and he cooperated. As per the Guild’s statement, the NIA in its press note claimed he was a “close associate” of the Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez.
Irfan started his career as a journalist in 2015 and covered politics and human rights extensively. He has written for several publications about the situation in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370. He also runs an online publication called ‘Wande Magazine’, it said.
“Irfan Mehraj’s arrest continues a trend in Kashmir of security forces arresting journalists because of their critical reporting of the establishment. These include journalists Aasif Sultan, Sajad Gul, and Fahad Shah. The space for media freedom has progressively eroded in Kashmir.
The Guild urges the state administration to respect democratic values and stop the harassment of journalists in the name of national security,” it said.