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,
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.
(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.
- Aamir Idrisi, President, Association of Muslim Professionals
- Abdul Daiyan, social activist, Bihar
- Abu Zafar Adil Azmi, Special Correspondent, Afkar-e-Milli
- Achin Vanaik, writer, activist
- Afroz Alam Sahil, Editor, Beyondheadlines
- Ajit Sahi, Senior Journalist, Delhi
- Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times
- Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist
- Asad Zaidi
- Azam Khan, social activist, Hyderabad
- Bhavna Sharma, social activists, Anhad
- Bobby Kunhu
- Dilip Khan, Journalist
- Dr Anand Pradhan
- Dr. Hilal Ahmed, Associate Fellow, CSDS
- Dr. Saroj Giri, University of Delhi
- Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, the Milli Gazette
- Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
- Fr Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist
- Gauhar Iqbal, Palestine Foundation
- Hanif Lakdawala, social activist, Gujarat
- Harsh Kapoor, SACW.net
- Hilal Ahmed
- Imran Khan, social activist, Anhad
- Jawed Naqvi, Senior Journalist
- John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council
- Kamayani Bali Mahabal
- Khadeeja Arif, BBC News
- Khurshid Anwar
- KN Panikkar, Historian
- Kundan Pandey, Journalist
- Madhuresh Kumar
- Mahesh Bhatt, Filmmaker
- Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist
- Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
- Mansi Sharma, Social Activist
- Md. Ali, Twocircles.Net
- Mukul Dube
- Mukul Kesavan, writer and historian
- Mumtaz Alam Falahi, Editor, Twocircles.Net
- Nandita Das, film actress
- Navaid Hamid, Member, National Integration Council
- Neshat Quaiser, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
- Panini Anand, Editor, Pratirodh
- Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, JNU
- Prof. Anwar Alam, Center for West Asian Studies, Jamia
- Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University
- Prof. Jairus Banaji, Historian
- Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
- Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
- Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, University of Delhi
- Prof. Shohini Ghosh, MCRC, Jamia
- Ram Puniyani, social activist, writer
- Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist
- Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker
- Sanjay Sharma, social activist, Anhad
- Satya Sivaraman, journalist
- Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist
- Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, ANHAD
- Shafi Mahajir ,advocate Hyderabad
- Sharmila Tagore, Actor
- Shivam Vij, journalist, Delhi
- Sohail Hashmi, filmmaker, writer
- Soheb Niazi
- Sucheta Dey, President, JNU Student Union
- Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist
- Tanveer Hussain, activist, Kashmir
- Vijayan MJ
- Vivan Sundaram, artist
- Waliullah Laskar, Activist
- Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, editor, Siasat
- Zoobi Amir, Film Maker Delhi
- Gareth Porter: Who was behind the Delhi bombing?
- Zafar Mehdi: Arrest of Journalist Kazmi: A Mere Pawn in a Sinister Game?
- Dwaipayan Ghosh: Blasts linked but Kazmi was not on Bangkok list
- TwoCircles.net: Citing rights violations, activists demand disbanding of Delhi Police’s Special Cell
- The Hindu: Plainclothesman overpowered
From Kafila archives:
- Manisha Sethi: Delhi Police Special Cell – Encounters, Frame-ups, Impunity