Srinagar, May 03 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Kashmir Journalists Association, on the World Press Freedom Day, today, demanded immediate release of illegally detained journalist, Aasif Sultan.

Expressing serious concern over the deteriorating press freedom in occupied Kashmir, the KJA in a statement said Aasif’s continued imprisonment reflects growing threat journalists are facing in the territory.

“Leading journalist and human rights bodies including International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Amnesty International highlighted the issue of his arrest and jailing. The KJA would like to thank them for their support,” the statement said.

One Free Press Coalition recently declared Aasif Sultan’s arrest among 10 Most Urgent threats to press freedom around the world. But it appears the authorities are least concerned about the press freedom.“Aasif, reporter with Kashmir Narrator, was arrested on ‘anti-India charges in August 2018. He has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal sources by police, and has experienced health issues as he remains behind the bars,” the global organisation founded by dozens of news organizations, including TIME, said in its report.

The KJA said the media fraternity of Kashmir has maintained the standards of the job despite working under difficult situation and tremendous pressure from various quarters. However, it said the curbs and censorship imposed by the authorities after February 14 Pulwama incident have further shrunk the space for journalists.

It said the journalists have already faced difficult times in recent years, beginning with the ban on Daily Kashmir Reader in 2016, murder of Shuja’at Bukhari in 2018, stoppage of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Reader and Kashmir Uzma this year, and dozens of incidents of assault and harassment by Indian forces and government officials.

The KJA said that the authorities instead of respecting the journalists for being non-partisan and unbiased had started raising doubts on the work of journalists. It demanded an immediate end to harassment of journalists in Kashmir.

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