Weather Icon 7.1°C Scattered Clouds
Denton Journalist Amitt Bhatt’s decision day in appeal for political asylum
Monday 13th March 2017 @ 12:48 by Nigel P.

Amitt Bhatt an investigative journalist living in Denton, now seeking asylum after arrest in India following publication of books and articles on his native Kashmir

The National Union of Journalists will be staging a demonstration in support of  an investigative journalist currently living in Denton.

Amitt Bhatt fears he will be arrested if he is returned to India from where he fled in 2014 and is seeking political asylum in the UK.

Mr. Bhatt  has written several books exposing human rights abuses in his native Kashmir which is a disputed territory governed by India, but with a majority Muslim population who largely favour independence or union with neighbouring Pakistan.

An attempt is currently being made, through a case in the Indian courts, to ban two of his books. and supporters fear it is “extremely likely, given the current situation in the country, that he would face persecution, arrest, physical assault, torture or even murder for exercising his right to freedom of expression through his journalistic work.”

Last October Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne raised Mr Bhatt’s case with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Andrew Gwynne in the House of Commons raised the case of Mr Bhatt with the Home Secretary.

Despite India’s boast to be the world largest democracy it is considered a dangerous country for journalists, particularly for those covering human rights issues in Kashmir.

There have been at least 27 journalists murdered across India since 1992, two in the last year

According to the International Federation of Journalists, the National Union of Journalists in India and the NUJ, there is ‘a culture of violence against the media in the country.’

Shortly after the publication of Amitt’s second book, his friend the investigative journalist Umesh Rajput was shot dead by two masked men on motorcycles.

Following the publication of Amitt’s second book about Kashmir, he was himself arrested by the Indian police in early February 2011 and claims he was tortured and beaten until his escape from detention in mid March 2011.

After this, he went into hiding for three years, moving frequently around the country.

In April 2014, he left India and claimed asylum in the UK.

NUJ members will be present at Mr Bhatt’s  Asylum hearing at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal at the Piccadilly Plaza, Mosely Street Manchester on Tuesday (14/3/17) and expect supporters of Mr Bhatt to swell the numbers.