Hours after being released on bail by a Shopian court and days after securing bail from a special court, journalist Fahad Shah was arrested for the third time in a month on Saturday evening. The most recent arrest, by Srinagar police, relates to a case regarding his magazine’s reporting of an encounter in the city in May 2020.
According to a statement from the magazine, while granting bail to Fahad, Magistrate Shopian Sayeem Qayoom noted, “In a barbaric society you can hardly ask for bail, in a civilized society you can hardly refuse it. In other words, “surety is the rule and its refusal is the exception”.
Shah, the editor of the online news magazine “thekashmirwalla”, was arrested on February 4 this year by Pulwama police. He was released on bail by a special court under NIA law after 22 days in detention on February 26. He was subsequently arrested by Shopian police and released on bail on Saturday.
Currently, he is housed at Safakadal Police Station in Srinagar and his lawyer is about to apply for bail again.
In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir Police noted that journalist Fahad Shah was wanted in three cases for “glorifying terrorism, spreading false news and inciting the general public to create public order situations”.
The 33-year-old was arrested for social media posts “amounting to glorifying terrorist activity and damaging the image of law enforcement in addition to causing ill will and disaffection against the country”.
The arrest in Shopian, on the heels of his first bail, came in a case filed by the military against two news portals, including “thekashmirwalla” under Sections 153 (provocation with intent to riot ) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code in January last year. This follows a report in the magazine alleging that a local army unit “forced an Islamic seminary to hold Republic Day celebrations on January 26” in Shopian.
Meanwhile, a third FIR has been filed at Pulwama Police Station after Shah magazine published an article quoting family members of one of the deceased activists denying police allegations. Police had disputed the claims made in the report.