Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political Pressures

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

welcomes the grant of bail to senior journalist K.K. Shahina, in the southern

Indian state of Karnataka after a hearing in a district court on 22 February.

Shahina, who currently works for Open magazine in the state of Kerala, south of Karnataka, faces

charges of criminal intimidation of witnesses following a story she wrote for the

weekly magazine Tehelka. The story

which appeared in December 2010 cast doubt on the charges of terrorism brought

against a prominent Islamic cleric from Kerala state.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011,

Shahina was granted anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court in July 2011.

Following summons issued after charges were formally laid against her in

January this year, Shahina appeared before a court in Somwarpet in Kodagu

district of Karnataka, to renew her bail.

IFJ sources indicate that the courtroom where the bail

hearing was scheduled was besieged by activists of the right-wing political

group, the Bajrang Dal, on 22 February, just as Shahina made her appearance.

Shahina and friends, who accompanied her to the

hearing, were reportedly threatened by the Bajrang Dal activists who also

insisted that a cameraperson show them the visuals he had recorded, to ensure

that they could not be identified in public.

The IFJ joins partners in India in urging the

authorities in Karnataka state to ensure that conditions for a fair trial are maintained.

“We see this prosecution as an effort to silence fair

and independent reporting through legal injunction and harassment”, said the

IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“If the victimisation of a journalist is further

compounded by an atmosphere of fear and intimidation created in the environs of

the courtroom hearing her case, then we fear the likely chilling effect this

could have on free and fair reporting”.

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950


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