The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
deeply disturbed at the detention and harassment of a journalist in India’s
national capital, Delhi and the enforced shutdown of the media in the Kashmir
region, following the execution on February 9, of a person convicted of conspiring
in the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament compound.
According to reports from partners in India, a curfew
was imposed in several districts of Kashmir early in the morning of February 9,
just prior to the execution, which was formally announced shortly after 8 a.m.
At around 10:30 a.m., Iftikhar Gilani, a senior
journalist with the multi-edition newspaper, Daily News and Analysis, was approached by two men as he left his
Delhi home for work. He was asked for directions to the residence of the
dissident Kashmiri politician Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who happens to be his
Gilani showed the two men to the nearby location of
interest, in the belief that they may be from a courier agency. Once there, the
two men identified themselves as personnel of the Special Cell of Delhi Police
and forced Gilani indoors. A little later, Gilani’s wife was also escorted to
the flat by two other policemen.
Gilani and his wife were detained for five hours and
released only after colleagues intervened at the highest levels of the Delhi
Police. During this time, his own home was occupied by personnel of the Special
Cell and his children put through considerable trauma.
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), a constituent
unit of the IFJ-affiliate, the Indian Journalists’ Union, has condemned
Gilani’s detention and the harassment of his family.
In a statement issued on February 10, the DUJ called
for action against the police personnel responsible for Gilani’s most recent
ordeal, and also recalled his seven months of incarceration in 2002 on trumped
up charges under the Official Secrets Act.
Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council
of India (PCI), has, in a strongly worded letter to the Indian Ministry of Home
Affairs, characterised the actions of the Delhi Police as “high-handed” and
“outrageous” and demanded disciplinary proceedings against the men responsible.
Gilani has been working as a journalist in Delhi for
over twenty years and is well respected for his professionalism and
Meanwhile, the curfew imposed in most districts of Kashmir
and the retaliatory general strike called by dissident political organisations,
have paralysed all activity in the region.
IFJ sources in Kashmir report that journalists have
managed to reach their places of work despite these adversities, though
newspaper publication and local news broadcasts have been suspended after
several media offices were visited by policemen who handed out informal
advisories. This intervention reportedly came late on the evening of February
9, when most newspapers were getting ready to print.
Internet and mobile phone services in Kashmir have
also been partly disabled.
“We fully endorse the demand made by our partners in
the DUJ and by the chairman of the PCI, that the officials responsible for
Gilani’s harassment be identified and subject to the full range of sanctions
applicable”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“We also call for the restoration of all facilities
and the rights to free movement for media personnel in Kashmir and the
resumption of normal publishing and broadcasting by all media organisations in
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