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On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi

March 11, 2012

On 7 March, Delhi Police arrested Delhi-based journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi on charges of being part of the plot to kill an Israeli diplomat’s wife in Delhi on 13 February. Many have expressed concern that Kazmi is being falsely implicated. Give below is the text of a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner by the DELHI UNION OF JOURNALISTS, followed by a statement from the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS, and thereafter by a statement issued by a group of citizens.

    9 March 2012 

The Commissioner of Police,
Delhi Police,
New Delhi

Sir:

This has a reference to arrest of Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, a senior Urdu journalist, on March 6 by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in connection with a bomb blast in the car of an Israeli embassy lady staffer last month.

Mr Kazmi has impeccable credentials and has a reputation as an upright, honest and objective journalist, with no record whatsoever that can put him to any social shame. His arrest has shocked the journalist fraternity which sees it as an attack on the freedom of Press since he appears to have been picked up for gathering  information as part of his professional duty as a journalist.

It is because of his credentials as an objective journalist that Doordarshan, an official government broadcaster, picked up none but him for the coverage of the second Gulf war in Iraq at a time when no journalist was ready to go to the war-torn country. He has been associated with Doordarshan for the past 20 years and he was on the DD Urdu channel just hours before he was picked up by Police.

Mr Kazmi is a free-lance journalist, running own Web service, Media Star, to cater to the Urdu newspapers, besides working for Iranian radio and contributing articles in newspapers in India and abroad. His professional work takes him to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, all recorded on his passport, and this can not be a crime as being made out against him. He has been accredited to the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Government of India and as such he has been also security cleared by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

It is because of his nature and the past record that we are shocked at the way he has been framed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and taken on the Police remand for 20 days instead of allowing him to go home after the interrogation.

We are given to understand that he is fully cooperating with Police to provide whatever information available with him which can be useful in solving the mystery of the February 13 car blast and as such it is a torture for both him, his family and the journalist fraternity that he continues to remain in custody.

We, therefore, seek your kind intervention with an humble request that –

a) You kindly Withdraw the charges framed against Mr Kazmi under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act until the investigations are completed to establish any kind of his involvement in the car bomb blast.

b) Stop the custodial interrogation since Mr Kazmi is fully cooperating and ready to be available to assist the Police whenever required in its investigation.

c) Stop all sorts of allegations against Mr Kazmi being palmed off to the gullible journalists by the Delhi Police officers anonymously and ensure that no such allegations are planted in the Media until presented before the Court.

d) If the Police has foolproof evidence against Mr Kazmi, a charge-sheet may be filed without delay to let him apply for bail.

With thanks,
SK.Pande

General Secretary
DUJ

(Copies were also sent to Honorable Information Minister Ambika Soni and the Press Council Chairman Markhanday Katju.)

*

IFJ Urges Due Process for Journalist Arrested on Terror Charge in India

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its partner the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) in expressing deep concern at the arrest of veteran Indian freelance journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi on charges of involvement in a February 13 bomb attack on a vehicle belonging to the Israeli diplomatic mission in Delhi.

Kazmi, 50, was arrested on the afternoon of March 7 in the Indian capital and remanded to police custody for twenty days.

Police in Delhi are reported to be working on the lead that the attack on the diplomatic vehicle may have been planned by a terror group based in a West Asian country. Kazmi allegedly served as an accessory in the plot, surveying the route taken by the diplomatic vehicle and alerting the planters of the bomb to its movements on the day of the attack.

The IFJ is informed that Kazmi is a journalist in good standing, with a regular column in an Urdu-language weekly published from Delhi and a retainer as an Urdu language newscaster with India’s state-owned television channel, Doordarshan. He has also completed an internship with one of India’s main news agencies, the United News of India, and is widely read and respected in Urdu language circles. Fluent in Persian and Arabic, Kazmi has contributed to several documentary productions aired over Indian TV channels, in which interpretation from these languages has been necessary.

Given his linguistic skills, Kazmi has also been deployed by Indian news organisations in covering regional affairs in the Arab and Islamic region.

Delhi Police have cited Kazmi’s phone records, which reveal a number of recent calls to Iran and Syria, as part of the grounds on which he has been arrested. The IFJ understands that these calls were purely of a professional nature, in line with his work assignments.

Kazmi has appeared on talk shows on Indian news channels over recent weeks and argued a forceful case against the ongoing war rhetoric against Iran for its supposed violations of international law.

He also recently travelled to Syria on an invitation from the Syrian government, to cover the referendum on President Bashar Al-Assad’s proposals for political reform.

The DUJ held an emergency meeting on March 7, calling for Kazmi’s immediate release on bail and decrying the targeting of journalists for their “professional work, sources and connections”.

An editor of an Urdu language daily newspaper, the Sahafat, was quoted describing the arrest of Kazmi as an accessory to terrorism as completely “irresponsible”. Some senior journalists have also suggested that Kazmi’s ethnicity may have been a factor in the decision by authorities to lay charges against him.

“With all respect for the legal process in India, the IFJ is concerned that Kazmi may have been identified for arrest based on his political views, rather than solid evidence”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“All reports available so far indicate that Kazmi is a sound professional who did not deviate from his commitment to a journalistic code of ethics, while not hesitating to express his well-considered views when required.

We call on the authorities in Delhi to uphold the presumption of innocence, and provide a full explanation of the grounds on which Kazmi has been arrested and ensure that he is given all opportunities to clear his name”.

(Statement via IFJ Asia-Pacific website. For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950. The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries.)

*

Citizens’ Statement on the arrest of Journalist Kazmi 

The undersigned condemn the arrest of senior journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the attack on Israeli diplomat last month. Mr. Kazmi’s arrest is reminiscent of the arrest and false allegations against another veteran journalist, Iftikhar Gilani, several years ago. We fear that Mr. Kazmi may be made a scapegoat in order to please an international lobby. It is no secret that Israel held Iran culpable within minutes of the attack, and there has been immense pressure on India to sever its ties with Iran—both from Israel and US (to the extent that US displayed its obvious unhappiness to foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai over the fact that India was not heeding the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on Iran.)

Israel also pressured India to support a resolution condemning “Iranian terrorism” in the UN Security Council. While the Indian government has so far held out against the pressure, even refusing to implicate Iran in the attack, a recent report in Jerusalem Post stated that, “Israel provided the Indian authorities with information on two suspects in the attack connected with Iran”. Has Mr. Kazmi been picked up upon tips provided by Israeli agencies? How credible can these inputs be, given Israel’s clear intent to condemn and implicate Iran as the source of the attack? We are anxious that the Persian-knowing Mr. Kazmi, a journalist with the Iranian News agency, IRNA, who would obviously be in regular touch with his sources and employers in Iran and the Iranian embassy, is being targeted precisely because of these reasons.

Mr. Kazmi is well respected and known to the journalist fraternity for his professional integrity. We demand that he be immediately released on bail and the due process of law followed.

  1. Aamir Idrisi, President, Association of Muslim Professionals
  2. Abdul Daiyan, social activist, Bihar
  3. Abu Zafar Adil Azmi, Special Correspondent, Afkar-e-Milli
  4. Achin Vanaik, writer, activist
  5. Afroz Alam Sahil, Editor, Beyondheadlines
  6. Ajit Sahi, Senior Journalist, Delhi
  7. Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times
  8. Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist
  9. Asad Zaidi
  10. Azam Khan, social activist, Hyderabad
  11. Bhavna Sharma, social activists, Anhad
  12. Bobby Kunhu
  13. Dilip Khan, Journalist
  14. Dr Anand Pradhan
  15. Dr. Hilal Ahmed, Associate Fellow, CSDS
  16. Dr. Saroj Giri, University of Delhi
  17. Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, the Milli Gazette
  18. Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
  19. Fr Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist
  20. Gauhar Iqbal, Palestine Foundation
  21. Hanif Lakdawala, social activist, Gujarat
  22. Harsh Kapoor, SACW.net
  23. Hilal Ahmed
  24. Imran Khan, social activist, Anhad
  25. Jawed Naqvi, Senior Journalist
  26. John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council
  27. Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  28. Khadeeja Arif, BBC News
  29. Khurshid Anwar
  30. KN Panikkar, Historian
  31. Kundan Pandey, Journalist
  32. Madhuresh Kumar
  33. Mahesh Bhatt, Filmmaker
  34. Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist
  35. Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
  36. Mansi Sharma, Social Activist
  37. Md. Ali, Twocircles.Net
  38. Mukul Dube
  39. Mukul Kesavan, writer and historian
  40. Mumtaz Alam Falahi, Editor, Twocircles.Net
  41. Nandita Das, film actress
  42. Navaid Hamid, Member, National Integration Council
  43. Neshat Quaiser, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
  44. Panini Anand, Editor, Pratirodh
  45. Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, JNU
  46. Prof. Anwar Alam, Center for West Asian Studies, Jamia
  47. Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University
  48. Prof. Jairus Banaji, Historian
  49. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
  50. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
  51. Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, University of Delhi
  52. Prof. Shohini Ghosh, MCRC, Jamia
  53. Ram Puniyani, social activist, writer
  54. Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist
  55. Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker
  56. Sanjay Sharma, social activist, Anhad
  57. Satya Sivaraman, journalist
  58. Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist
  59. Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, ANHAD
  60. Shafi Mahajir ,advocate Hyderabad
  61. Sharmila Tagore, Actor
  62. Shivam Vij, journalist, Delhi
  63. Sohail Hashmi, filmmaker, writer
  64. Soheb Niazi
  65. Sucheta Dey, President, JNU Student Union
  66. Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist
  67. Tanveer Hussain, activist, Kashmir
  68. Vijayan MJ
  69. Vivan Sundaram, artist
  70. Waliullah Laskar, Activist
  71. Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, editor, Siasat
  72. Zoobi Amir, Film Maker Delhi

See also:

From Kafila archives:

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Mukul Dube permalink
    March 11, 2012 9:09 PM

    Is it true that no Farsi (or Hebrew) workshop manual for the car under which the explosive was attached was recovered from the man who was arrested? Can the police have slipped up?

    • Ayesha permalink
      March 22, 2012 3:55 PM

      I so agree with you. BTW, spot on sarcasm, they deserve it after planting dry fruits on dead bodies.

  2. Vinay Yagnik permalink
    March 11, 2012 11:44 PM

    I don’t know how one can be sure one way or the other. Surely, the police is entitled to conduct its investigations. I don’t know how people can condemn this arrest without knowing anything about the situation.

    -Vinay

    • Mukul Dube permalink
      March 12, 2012 12:24 AM

      Of course: but observers cannot but be influenced by the record of the police in such matters. “Shabby” would be an exceptionally mild word for that record. It is not without reason that many use the adjective “criminal”.

    • Ram Sharma permalink
      March 12, 2012 3:00 AM

      I have the same problem. A terrorist activity took place on our land. Some people seem to know who did not do. Police could be wrong, but should be condemned only when the innocense of the arrested persons is proven. Indian jails are flooded with criminals punished by the highest courts. If the argument that police has a record of arresting innocents is always implied, then none of these criminals will be in jail. Looks like some of us have lost faith not only in police, but also simple logic.

      • manormassave permalink
        March 12, 2012 5:54 PM

        “Police could be wrong, but should be condemned only when the innocense of the arrested persons is proven. ”

        tomorrow the police arrests you on trumped up charges and we will not believe that you are innocent until proven to be innocent!

        If the basic principle of criminal law – the presumption of innocence is replaced by the presumption of guilt then God save us. Not to divert attention from the case at hand, but some principles are so basic that everyone including people like Kanimozhi and Raja are entitled to it.

  3. aaronv permalink
    March 12, 2012 4:22 AM

    According to the newspaper Haaretz, Israel’s investigation of the attempted terrorist attacks in Bangkok has also yielded a link to this journalist.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/indian-journalist-involved-in-delhi-attack-on-israeli-embassy-also-connected-to-bangkok-bombers-1.417861

    Feel free to dismiss this report with any number of conspiracy theories regarding Israel.

    • March 12, 2012 5:03 AM

      No need to come up with conspiracy theories. One just needs to read the story on that link you give. It does not say, anywhere, that Israeli investigation has found Kazmi’s role in the bomb blast. However, you presumed, and rightly so, that many will read your comment and not click at the link, thus taking away your claim for what it is. If only you were to read the Haaretz report you would say it quotes one Indian news source after another.

      Such disinfomation campaign is typical in cases where people are falsely accused. The Haaretz report does say that investigators in Bangkok found Kazmi’s number on a piece of paper – who does that in this age of smartphones? – however, a Times of India report I linked to towards the end of my post quotes Indian sources as saying the claim is false, no such piece of paper was found.

      Do you have more conspiracy theories to offer to prove Kazmi’s involvement in the blast? remember that the onus is on the prosecution to prove guilt. So if you are so sure Kazmi is guilty please prove it. The statements above are merely expressing an apprehension that he may have been framed and are emphasising on due process, asking for bail (not dismissal of case), asking for withdrawal of charges under the draconian UAPA law until his involvement in an act of terrorism is not proved, asking for the police to explain on what grounds and on the basis of what evidence he has been arrested, and so on. You clearly have a problem with that. For you, if a Haaretz report says (which it doesn’t) that Israel says (which it isn’t saying yet) that Kazmi was involved, then, well, he must be. So Mr Disinformation campaign, lay off. As we say in Hindi, kisi aur ko bewakoof banana. Fool someone else.

    • Reyaz permalink
      March 19, 2012 10:28 AM

      aaronv: You are talking about Israeli propaganda. Please see what independent writers are saying on it.

      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/201222985228671645.html

      (By Dr Gareth Porter, Who is an investigative journalist and historian specialising in US national security policy.)

      Also There is no evidence of Kazmi’s number connection in Bangkok investigation.

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-11/delhi/31144908_1_car-bomb-blast-delhi-blast-tbilisi-and-bangkok

      (Times of India Article: “Blasts linked but Kazmi was not on Bangkok list”)

  4. syed iftikhar zedi permalink
    March 12, 2012 11:43 AM

    HIS MASTERS VOICE
    Previously USA was following HIS MASTERS VOICE (ISRAEL), Now INDIA has replaced USA to follow “HIS MASTER(ISRAEL) VOICE”.

  5. March 12, 2012 2:22 PM

    So this guy’s guilty then, is he? Hmm. Is there a list of charges against him? Evidence?

    Amazing isn’t it, when an Ajmal Kasab can be caught on camera mowing down people at CST, yet spend three years and counting chilling out at Indian taxpayer expense.

  6. Sohail Hashmi permalink
    March 12, 2012 5:34 PM

    The likes of Aaronv and others inclined to agree with all the claims made by the police need to explain how in case after case the courts have been throwing out the charge sheets filed by the police and freeing a large number of those arrested after finding them absolutely innocent of the charges leveled against them.

    These people were arrested by our trigger happy police within hours of the Malegaon and Makki Masjid blasts, All of those caught belonged to the same community to which Mr Kazmi Belongs and all have been freed by the courts and surprise surprise the actual perpetrators have now turned out be those belonging to a Hindutva terror network.

    Do Aarnov and others of his ilk, not see the possibility that the police and the media might have made a mistake in this case as well, as they have in a number of such cases earlier.

    There is a track record of inefficiency that the police has left behind and there is a track record of trial by the media that the press has been guilty of.

    Or are AaronV and his camp followers convinced that being a Muslim and a Muslim who knows Urdu Persian and Arabic and is known for his forthright views is reason enough for his being a terrorist.

    incidentally Haaretz has forgotten to mention that two Irani nuclear scientists have been killed in recent months through the use of Magnetic Bombs and that it has been suggested by several sources that Mossad is known to have developed this magnetic bomb technology

    Do you totally exclude the possibility Mr Aaronv that this attack on one of their own in Delhi could be a method adopted by Mossad to force India in joining the unilateral US embargo against Iran?

  7. javed rizvi permalink
    March 12, 2012 11:08 PM

    Time is telling the fact.Now its been around a week since police apprehended Mr Kazimi and in normal course of investigation by now the whole plot should have been busted but the police has not come up with a complaete investigation,they already said that the actual bomber has fled the country furthermore when the bombing took place witnesses at the spot told the police and media that the bomber came by a red byke and later police recovered that byke in the evening abandoned somewhere in delhi but now police has come up with a new fact that the colour of the byke was black.these all thing tells how baised and unprofessional the police is in india.I remeber during the bajpeyee govt.police claimed to nab an AL QAEDA memebr who later turned out to be a mental patient n court aquitted that man.During the visist of mr Bill clinoton a masscare of sikhs took place in chitsinhpura kashmir with in hours after that event police claimed to kill all the preprators in an encounter but later it was found that they were simple daily labours whom police picked from labour market and killed them all n then said that they were terrorist..these r some examples.
    The very next day after delhi attack Mr kazmi was a part of a debate on NDTV india on the topic of Delhi attackes and indo iranian relation It is an irony a person debating a terror act he was a prt of……………………….Police also said that they are acting on the inputs they received from central agencies that get from israili mossad,now general feeling is that police was looking for a shia muslim with links to Iran n so they acted hastily on that input without investing their brain as they have done this various times in past…shame on Delhi Police..Shame on Govt of India that is becomming slave of America and Israel..

  8. Rahul Roy permalink
    March 13, 2012 7:24 PM

    We will continue to debate along these expected lines, activists quite justifiably will doubt the veracity of conspiracy theories and from the other side of the fence will be heard voices for justice. The problem and the solutions lie elsewhere and the State agencies know it only too well. Unless we bring in accountability to investigative and prosecution processes, innocents will continue to suffer and murderers will keep getting away. The fact that the police apparatus functions with complete impunity and is never in the dock for botched up and shoddy investigations makes them function without a care or any sensitivity. The only way to change this situation is to pressurise the state into creating checks and balances to counter impunity. More energy needs to be focused there otherwise in the coming days we will be holding candles at India Gate every week.

Trackbacks

  1. Justice for Journalist – Sayed Mohammed Kazmi - Letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner by the DELHI UNION OF JOURNALISTS
  2. Justice for Journalist – Sayed Mohammed Kazmi - Citizens’ Statement on the arrest of Journalist Kazmi
  3. [Kafila] On the arrest of Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi « Free Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

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