NAJ, DUJ, APWJF Welcome Bail to Journalists

Three journalists’ unions have welcomed the bail given to journalists Prabir Purkayastha, Gautam Navlakha and Asif Sultan in three different UAPA cases. The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ), the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) and the Andhra Pradesh Working Journalists Federation (APWJF) in a joint statement hailing the bail orders warned against malicious prosecution and re-arrest of these journalists.

Purkayastha, 73, founder editor of the Delhi based news portal NewsClick, was arrested in October 2023 under UAPA on charges that he had received Chinese money to destabilize the country. NewsClick had been repeatedly raided by different authorities including the Income Tax, the Enforcement Directorate and   the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. In October the homes of 46 persons were raided at dawn and 480 electronic devices, including personal mobiles and laptops, were seized. Purkayastha has now been released since the grounds of arrest were not provided to him in writing at the time of arrest. The Supreme Court has held that this is a violation of the “fundamental right guaranteed to the arrested person” to be able to defend themselves and also apply for bail.

Navlakha, 66, a veteran Delhi journalist and human rights activist, was arrested in 2018 in the infamous Bhima Koregaon case. He was in jail and later granted house arrest when his medical condition deteriorated. The NIA has demanded that he pay Rs 1.6 crore for the security magnanimously provided to him while under house arrest in Mumbai. The Supreme Court, while granting bail has observed that, “The trial would take years and years and years to complete.” There are 375 witnesses to be heard in the case.

Asif Sultan, 36, was arrested in 2018 under a UAPA case for alleged links with militants. He was granted bail in 2022 by the Jammu & Kashmir High Court as no links had been established but he faced ‘revolving door’ arrests. He was immediately held under the Public Safety Act. He was incarcerated for six years. He has now been granted bail again in another UAPA case but with stringent conditions on his use of electronic communication devices including mobiles.

THE NAJ, DUJ and APWJF welcome the bail granted to journalists and other citizens while severely condemning the numerous politically motivated cases filed against them in recent years. We call for the quashing of all such FIRs and cases and an end to malicious prosecution of media persons.



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