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J&K High Court Grants Bail to Kashmiri Journalist Fahad Shah, Quashes Terrorism-related Charges

Photo: fFahad Shah/ Facebook

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court granted bail to Fahad Shah, editor of the news portal “The Kashmir Walla,” which had been banned. The court quashed several charges, including “abetting terrorism, waging war against the country, and promoting enmity” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Fahad Shah had been arrested in connection with FIR No. 19/2022 filed by Pulwama police, and interim bail had been granted by the special court. The charges against him included glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news, and inciting the public in multiple cases, as stated by the police.

His legal team member expressed optimism, stating, “The court granted Mr. Shah bail. We expect his release soon.”

Fahad Shah had been in jail for 21 months under the Public Safety Action (PSA) and faced charges under UAPA related to reporting and articles published by his portal since 2011.

The J&K High Court, in its ruling, quashed charges under Section 18 (abetting the commission of a terrorist act), Section 121 (waging war), and Section 153-B (promoting enmity) of the UAPA. However, Shah will continue to face trial under Section 13 (inciting unlawful activity) of the UAPA and sections 35 and 39 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) related to receiving funds in violation of the law.

This bail comes seven months after the J&K High Court had previously quashed Shah’s detention under the Public Safety Act, stating that the apprehension of an adverse impact on public order was a mere surmise.

Fahad Shah was initially arrested in February 2022 over a report on his portal about an encounter in Pulwama. The police accused him of “uploading anti-national content with criminal intent to create fear among the public.” His arrest had sparked widespread reactions from the media fraternity and human rights groups, with over 50 press freedom organizations calling for his immediate release and the withdrawal of police investigations into his journalistic work.

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