Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) Tuesday condemned the police raid on the residence of its senior member, Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, editor daily Afaaq, and his subsequent arrest during Monday night.
Terming the raid on his residence as shocking, the KEG in a statement said that Qadri, 62, a known hypertensive, has spent more than 35 years in public life.
To arrest Qadri, the police invoked a 1990s case registered against eight journalists and editors, of whom two veterans Sofi Ghulam Mohammad of ‘Srinagar Times’ and Ghulam Mohammad Aarif of ‘Daily Hamdard’ have already passed away.
“It is still not known why Qadri was singled out,” the statement said, adding that he was accused of defying due process of law in a case, of which he was not aware of.
The statement quoted Qadri as saying that he did not know how and why he was declared a proclaimed offender. “The case is curious because the same police station verified and attested the antecedents of the editor for issuance of the passport twice in last 30 years,” the statement said.
The editor was today granted bail by a court.
The KEG said that in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, the police failed to offer even an iota of evidence about what the case was all about.
“After granting bail to the editor, the court directed the police to explain how it had investigated the case in last three decades before it finally swooped on the residence of Qadri and arrested him in the dead of the night,” it said.
KEG condemned the way the senior editor was declared “proclaimed offender in the books” and finally arrested during the dead of the night.
“Qadri, like every member of the media in Kashmir, is a law abiding citizen and could have personally appeared before the police station or the court had he been informed. He has been a newspaper editor for last more than two decades, has contributed to the institution of media and has been in public life for three decades.
“How can a person be a proclaimed offender if he is available in his office in the heart of Srinagar for more than 15 hours daily?” the statement said.
Meanwhile, KEG regretted that the arrest of Qadri led to the delay in the electoral process of the Aiwan-e-Sahafat “because most of the journalists were busy shuttling between courtrooms and the police station for the whole day.”
KEG hailed the judicial intervention that led to Qadri’s release. “The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar actually showed the judiciary’s concern in the case insisting that the liberty of the media is not barred or trampled upon,” it said.