After spending two years behind bars, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has granted bail to Peerzada Fahad Shah, Kashmiri journalist and editor of the Kashmir Walla. On November 17, the high court quashed several of the serious charges that Shah was booked of under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA). The court quashed the charges of “abetting terrorism,” “waging war against the country,” and “promoting enmity” under the UAPA.
Notably, this bail follows the High Court’s earlier decision to quash his detention under the PSA, citing a lack of substantial evidence linking him to a threat to public order. The judge in the said bail order, Justice Wasim Sadiq Nagral, had observed that the detention order should be set aside since it not only had technical infirmities but also since the detaining authority did not apply its mind while issuing the order. It is essential to highlight here that the PSA allows the authorities to detain a person for a period up to two years.
Yet, the fight for Shah is not over. As confirmed by Shah’s lawyer to The Kashmiriyat, he continue to face trial under Section 18 of the UAPA. Section 18 of the UAPA says that ‘whoever conspires or attempts to commit, or advocates, abets, advises or [incites, directly or knowingly facilitates] the commission of, a terrorist act or any act preparatory to the commission of a terrorist act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.]’
In addition to this, he had also been charged for violating Sections 35 and 39 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) for allegedly receiving funds against the law, a charge that still remains as per a report of the Wire.
The case against Fahad Shah:
In February of 2022, Shah was arrested by the police in relation to an alleged “incorrect reporting” on his portal regarding an encounter in Pulwama wherein three militants, including a top commander, had been gunned down. Shah was arrested for publishing an article written by Kashmir University scholar Abdul Ala Fazili titled “The Shackles of Slavery Will Break” on November 2011.
The FIR (First Information Report) had been filed in the said case in April 2022. The police had accused him of “glorifying terrorist activities” on social media and causing “disaffection against the country”. He was further accused of disseminating anti-national content to unspecified number of “social media users” and creating fear among the public. Ironically, there was not any explanation included in the charge sheet as to why it was registered after a decade.