The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates and
partners in India in calling for the review of a trial court decision denying
bail to Syed
Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, a journalist held in Delhi, India’s capital city,
since March 6.
Kazmi is being detained without formal charge under sections of the Explosives Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
while investigations continue into a February 13 bomb attack on a vehicle belonging
to the Israeli diplomatic mission in the Indian capital.
In turning down his bail application, Delhi’s Chief Metropolitan
Magistrate Vinod Yadav held that global inquiries into the bombing might be
compromised by his release. The Magistrate also acceded in large part to a prosecution
request not to discuss evidence in open court.
On the basis of telephone
and bank records placed before him, Magistrate Vinod Yadav arrived at a prima facie determination that Syed
Kazmi was in contact with the actual “assailants” and may have obtained funds from
foreign sources to carry out his part in the conspiracy.
argue that his correspondence with contacts based in Iran was most likely connected
to his professional work as a correspondent for the official Iranian news
agency. As a specialist on Gulf matters, he was a frequent visitor to Iran and
neighbouring Arab countries.
Delhi’s top police
official, Commissioner B K Gupta said soon after Kazmi’s arrest that he and his wife, Jahanara Kazmi, had been
receiving foreign remittances “regularly”. Kazmi’s supporters point out that
the remittances originating in the Gulf Emirate of Dubai date back four years,
follow a regular monthly pattern and can all be traced to an account held by Jahanara
Kazmi’s son from her first marriage to Kazmi’s long deceased elder brother.
Meanwhile, articles have appeared in sections of the Indian media, questioning the background of
the police personnel investigating the February 13 incident and suggesting a
disturbing tendency towards lawless behaviour, including possible involvement in
A.G. Noorani, a
highly respected commentator and expert on Indian constitutional law, hasobservedthat the conduct of
the Special Branch of Delhi Police could violate the basic principle of the
presumption of innocence. “Leaks or even attributable briefings while the
investigation proceeds are highly improper and, indeed, illegal”, he has said. “They
constitute a clear case of contempt of court and the officials should be hauled
up by the courts promptly and awarded deterrent sentences”.
Kazmi was remanded for
twenty days in police custody on March 7 but transferred to judicial custody
before this remand period expired, ostensibly because the Special Branch of the
Delhi Police had no further need to keep him.
His bail application came
up before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on March 30 but the hearing was
adjourned till April 3 because prosecution lawyers were not present.
“We appeal to the
authorities in India to respond to the growing concerns expressed by the media
community over the prolonged incarceration of a professional colleague without
formal charge”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“Kazmi must be granted the right to a prompt and fair
hearing, in keeping with national and international human rights principles. If
sufficient evidence cannot be found to charge him, then he should be released. Several
vital principles are at stake aside from the right to liberty of an individual
and his freedom to speak”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific