Kashmiri scribe gets bail in 2019 Srinagar Central Jail riot case

Kashmiri scribe gets bail in 2019 Srinagar Central Jail riot case


Srinagar, May 15: Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, who was arrested in March this year after returning home following five years of detention, has been granted bail by a Srinagar Court in a case related to the agitation of jail inmates inside the Srinagar Central Jail in 2019.

The bail was granted to Sultan subject to several conditions including that he shall appear before the Investigating Officer of the case as and when required.

The Additional Session Judge, Special Judge designated under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act Srinagar, granted bail to Sultan on May 10, stating that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose.

The occurrence took place more than 5 years ago, and sufficient time of approximately 2 ½ months (72 Days) has been given to the investigating agency for the custodial interrogation of the accused/applicant.

“The accused/ applicant was already under PSA ( Public Safety Act) till Feb 2024. The further detention of the accused person/applicant in the custody shall not serve any purpose…,” the judge observed.

“…The nature of the allegations against the accused & the punishment prescribed for the same, the period of detention of the accused i.e. the accused has been in the custody for the last 72 days, the fact that the recovery has been made from the place of occurrence and sent to FSL, and most of investigation has been completed, the interest of justice will be served in case the applicant is admitted to bail, at this stage,” the court said.

“As such, the petitioners/accused person is admitted to bail provided that he shall furnish bail bond to the tune of Rs.1,00,000/- each with one surety in the like amount,” the Court order read.

Sultan was booked in a case related to Srinagar’s central jail that 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.

During the hearing, the police report was called by the court which revealed that the allegations against the accused is that on April 4, 2019, the accused along with other jail inmates in the Central Jail Srinagar set ablaze few barracks, shouted anti national slogans and pelted stones on jail employees due to which some officials sustained injuries.

Accordingly, a case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various sections of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) – now the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 307 (attempt to murder) was registered in Police station Rainwari.

Sultan was arrested in 2018 for allegedly working for a banned militant group. He was booked under the UAPA and various other sections. He was initially lodged in Srinagar Central jail till April 2022 and was moved to a jail in Uttar Pradesh under the PSA.

His PSA was quashed by the J&K High Court in December 2023, and he was released from the UP Jail in March. However, he was arrested again by the J&K police in the 2019 Srinagar Central Jail violence case.

During his incarceration, Sultan received the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award from the American National Press Club in 2019.


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