Irfan Meraj remains in jail despite call for release by Editors Guild, Amnesty, UN Special Rapporteur

India continues to detain Kashmiri journalist Irfan Meraj despite several journalists’ and rights bodies and prominent activists, along with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, have expressed concern over his arrest by the New Delhi’s-led National Investigation Agency on March 20.

The UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor tweeted deep concern over Meraj’s incarceration and called for his release.

Among journalists’ collectives, the Press Club of India, Editors Guild of India and the Journalist Federation of Kashmir also criticised the action.

“EGI is deeply concerned about the excessive use of UAPA against journalists, most recently, in the case of the arrest of Irfan Mehraj, a Kashmir-based journalist, by the NIA. The Guild urges the state administration to respect democratic values,” EGI said.

EGI also said that Meraj’s arrest continues a trend in Kashmir of Indian 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,” it added.

“The arrest of Kashmiri journalist Irfan Meraj under terror charges is a travesty. The arrest is yet another instance of the long-drawn repression of human rights and the crackdown on media freedoms and civil society in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The stifling of the rights to freedom of expression and association continue unabated in Kashmir,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“Human rights defenders such as Irfan Meraj should be encouraged and protected, not persecuted,” Aakar Patel, the chair of board at Amnesty International India, said.

The PCI called the imposition of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act on a journalist a reflection of the “violation of freedom of speech and expression.”


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