Detention of Journalist in Delhi and Media Shutdown in Kashmir Follow Execution of Terrorism Convict

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

the region”.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950



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