Manan Dar, photojournalist from Kashmir, has secured bail after more than 14 months in jail. He was arrested on terror charges under the draconian UAPA but Additional Sessions Judge Shailender Malik said the allegation made by the NIA “does not appear to be cogent and true”.
The order was passed on Jan 2 in Delhi. Dar is one of the four journalists from Kashmir, arrested on terror charges. The others are Aasif Sultan (arrested on August 27, 2018), Sajjad Gul, arrested on Jan 5, 2022) and Fahad Shah (arrested on Feb 5, 2022).
Journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested in Oct 2020 and granted bail in a UAPA case in September 2022 and in a PMLA case in December 2022. However, he is still in jail due to the delay in verification procedures for sureties in the UAPA case and the production of sureties in the PMLA case.
Two other mediapersons, columnist Gautam Navlakha and writer Anand Teltumbde, charged with terror in the Bhima Koregaon case, are also out of jail. While Navlakha was granted house arrest under stringent conditions on November 18, 2022, Teltumbde got bail on merits on Nov 25, 2022.
The judge, going through the evidence presented by the National Investigation Agency(NIA) said that “This court would not go into detailed scrutiny of the evidence which of course would be carried out at the stage of charge but it would be sufficient to say that none of the evidence referred to (D-30, D-90, D-89 and D-141) or statement of
witnesses (PW-251, PW-261 and X-14) in any manner indicate any act of ‘terrorist activity’ as defined /s 15 of the Act, in any manner. Even if it is accepted that investigation revealed a new form of ‘hybrid cadre’ of terrorist or undercover cadre/ terrorists doing terrorist activity, assisting proscribed terrorist organization discreetly whereas ostensibly carrying on legitimate activities like Advocate, Journalist etc. However one must note that such allegation must be supported by direct evidence of any such activities. Mere assumptions or incomplete evidence to establish
such facts may not be sufficient.”
The court further said that “In the facts of the present case also without touching much on the merits of different evidence as against accused applicant, I find that accused/applicant has been able to establish a case satisfying the requirement of Section 43-D(5) of the Act and this court upon analysis of entire evidence and atleast for the purpose of disposal of bail application it can be observed that accusation against the accused does not appear to be cogent and