Indian Journalist Kazmi Arrested Unlawfully In Connection With Attack On Israel In New Delhi

NEW DELHI – An Indian journalist named Kazmi was arrested on Tuesday in New Delhi in connection with the February 13 attack on an Israeli attache in India. The journalist is being investigated for connections to the attackers. The Delhi Union of Journalist has demanded Kazmi's release and condemned his arrest as an attack on free press. 

 under the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act, 1967, by the Special Cell of Delhi Police at Lodhi Road, southern part of the national capital, New Delhi. The very next day police produced him before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav at the Tis Hazari court. The court sent him in police custody until March 27 for further investigation.

On February 13, a “sticky bomb” exploded in a car of Israeli defence attaché injuring his wife Tal Yehoshua Koren, his driver and two others. According to eye witnesses, a motorcyclist attached a sticky bomb to the car when it slowed down at a traffic signal. The incident happened near the Indian Prime Minister’s office.

Israel blamed Iran for the attack but Indian officials are waiting to point fingers until the investigation is concluded. Iran supplies India with ~12% of its energy needs in oil. Several were detained for questioning soon after the incident, but Kazmi was the first arrested in the case.

Kazmi, a senior journalist, has worked with BBC, Iran Republic News Agency, Doordarshan, an Indian government’s public service broadcaster, and also runs a feature agency called Media Star News and Features.

A delegation of senior journalist visited Ministry of Information and Broadcasting last week and delivered a memorandum to the minister, Ambika Soni, demanding the immediate release of Kazmi on bail. They also sent demand letters to the Commissioner of Delhi Police and Chairman of Press Council of India.

According to Delhi Police, Kazmi was in contact with a person suspected of committing the attack on the Israeli diplomat's car. Shuzaib Kazmi, son of Ahmad Kazmi, said that his father is innocent and has been implicated falsely.

"It is completely a false statement that my father has given shelter to the blast accused. No Iranian related to this case has visited our house," Shuzaib said.

Investigators believe that Kazmi sheltered some foreign nationals allegedly involved in the blast. Police also claim that they have recovered a scooty (two wheeler) from Kazmi’s house, which was allegedly used in the blast. Shuzaib rejected police claims and said that the scooty had been lying in his house since last two years.

"It was bought by my uncle who hails from Meerut-district of Uttar Pradesh, two years ago when he had come for his treatment to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in South Delhi,” Shuzaib explained.

"He has committed any illegal activities. He covered the Iraq war for the country. The police are mentally torturing my father," said Shauzaib Kazmi as tears rolled down his eyes.

S K Pandey, president of Delhi Union of Journalists said that his arrest is an attack on the freedom of press.

“Kazmi’s arrest has shocked journalists, who see it as an attack on the freedom of the press. He appears to have been picked up for gathering information as part of his professional duty as a journalist,” Pande said in his statement.

The journalist body also highlighted the fact that Kazmi had the prestigious Press Information Bureau (PIB) card for which the security clearance is issued by none other than the Union Home Ministry of India.

“His work takes him to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, all recorded on his passport. Journalism is not a crime.” the statement further added.

(abuzafar@journalist.com)