Delhi Court remands UAPA accused Irfan Mehraj to 10 days NIA custody; RSF demands immediate release

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Delhi Court has remanded Irfan Mehraj to NIA custody for 10 days in a case registered under UAPA.

A Delhi Court on Wednesday remanded Irfan Mehraj, a regular contributor to Al-Jazeera, to NIA custody till April 01. Mehraj was arrested by the probe agency on Monday from Srinagar and was produced before a special NIA judge of Patiala House Court in a case registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

On Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of Mehraj saying that he has been arrested on “spurious terrorism” charges and is facing the possibility of life imprisonment.

However, in a statement put out on Tuesday, the NIA said that Mehraj was a close associate of Khurram Parvez and was working with his organization, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS).

Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist was also arrested by the NIA in November 2021 on allegations of terror funding and conspiracy. "Investigation revealed that the JKCCS was funding terror activities in the valley and had also been in the propagation of secessionist agenda in the Valley under the garb of protection of human rights," the NIA said.

In its statement, the counter-terrorism agency further said that Mehraj's arrest is the first arrest made by them in the NGO terror funding case which was registered in October 2020. 

Editors Guild of India has condemned Mehraj’s arrest. "Irfan Mehraj's arrest continues a trend in Kashmir of security forces arresting journalists because of their critical reporting of the establishment. These include journalists Aasif Sultan, Sajad Gul, and Fahad Shah. The space for media freedom has progressively eroded in Kashmir," the Guild said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mehraj was the editor of and a regular contributor to Al-Jazeera and Deutsche Welle.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has criticised the National Investigation Agency for detaining Mehraj.

Mehraj was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Srinagar. The agency stated that he was a close associate of Khurram Parvez, and arrested him in connection with its continuing investigation into an "NGO terror funding case."

"Some NGOs, both registered as well as un-registered, have come to notice collecting funds domestically and abroad under the cover of doing charity and various welfare activities, including Public Health, Education etc. But some of these organisations have developed links with proscribed terrorist organizations, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) etc,” the NIA claimed.