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Statement: Condemnation and Call for the Immediate Release of Kashmiri Journalist Irfan Mehraj

Justice For All vehemently condemns the recent arrest of Kashmiri journalist Irfan Mehraj by the Indian authorities. During a professional assignment on March 20, 2023, Mehraj was summoned for questioning and arbitrarily detained by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Srinagar under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Mr. Mehraj’s arrest, based on allegations of association with the globally recognized human rights watchdog Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, is a blatant affront to freedom of speech and expression. This organization has played a pivotal role in documenting human rights violations in Kashmir and providing vital data to the United Nations. [1]

The targeting of Mehraj is not an isolated incident but rather emblematic of the broader pattern of harassment and intimidation faced by Kashmiri journalists since 2019. This suppression of free speech contravenes international human rights law, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

As the founding editor of Wande Magazine and a contributor to, Mehraj’s journalistic endeavors have extended to reputable international media outlets such as Al Jazeera, TRT World and Deutsche Welle. [1]

The arrest has sparked condemnation from prominent voices, including Amnesty India, Human Rights Watch and UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor. All entities have called for Mehraj’s immediate release, emphasizing the need to protect human rights defenders. Additionally, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti have voiced concerns over Mehraj’s targeting for exposing human rights violations. The Journalist Federation of Kashmir has also denounced the arrest, reporting Mehraj’s transfer. The Free Speech Collective has criticized the arrest as evidence of authorities’ efforts to suppress independent journalism. [1]

New Delhi’s deployment of over half a million soldiers to quash Kashmiris’ aspirations for self-determination underscores the oppressive tactics employed by the Indian government. The systematic detention of Kashmiri political figures under draconian laws like the Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, under spurious charges of “terrorism,” “receiving foreign funding,” and “abetting secession,” is a grave violation of human rights.

Rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have extensively documented severe human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indian army, often with governmental support. Furthermore, the Washington-based Genocide Watch has sounded alarms regarding the potential genocide of the Kashmiri population.

India’s Hindu-nationalist regime’s unilateral revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status in 2019, purportedly to combat “terrorism,” has led to a relentless assault on press freedom. Journalists like Kashmiri counterparts Fahad Shah and Asif Sultan have been unjustly imprisoned under laws designed to deny them bail.

Justice For All demands the immediate and unconditional release of Irfan Mehraj and calls upon the Indian government to fulfill its international obligations to safeguard journalists’ rights and ensure freedom of speech and expression, particularly in Kashmir.

We stand in solidarity with Irfan Mehraj, Kashmiri journalists, human rights defenders, and all those advocating for justice and human rights in Kashmir.

Given the severity of the situation, Justice For All urges the government to initiate a parliamentary investigation into the arbitrary detentions of Kashmiri civil and political leaders and the egregious human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian army.


[1] India arrests Kashmir journalist Irfan Mehraj on ‘terror’ charges | Freedom of the Press News | Al Jazeera

[2] Joint Statement: Immediately Release Irfan Mehraj | Human Rights Watch (

[3] India: Call for the immediate release of Irfan Mehraj | OMCT

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