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Embassy car blast: Protests against scribe's arrest in Delhi

March 09, 2012 19:56 IST

Journalists in New Delhi on Friday rose in unison against the arrest of a senior Urdu Journalist in the capital three days ago on the charge of allegedly playing a supportive role in the bomb blast in the Israeli embassy staffer's car here last month.

Asserting that Syed Muhammad Amhad Kazmi, 50 has impeccable credentials as an upright, honest and objective journalist with no criminal background as such.

Delhi Union of Journalists dubbed his arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as an attack on the freedom of press since he has been picked up for gathering some information as part of his professional duty as a journalist.

Veteran columnist Saeed Naqvi termed the arrest as "a random act by the police to journalists," pointing out that Kazmi had his biases for Iran and Palestinians and against Israel, but he certainly was not anti-Jew.

He is an honourable reporter fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu and Arabic, Pashtu and Persian languages," Naqvi said.

Other journalists knowing Kazmi well as also his family members asserted that he was certainly associated with the Iranian media, but that cannot be used to frame him for playing role in the February 13 bomb attack on the Israeli embassy's car.

"It is true that my father worked for Iran's new agency Islamic Republic News Agency as a freelance journalist. He was in touch with officials of the news agency but that does not make him a terrorist," his son Shauzab Kazmi said.

In a memorandum to Union Home and Information and Broadcasting ministers, Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju and Delhi Police Commissioner, the DUJ demanded his immediate release on bail until the investigations are complete as he is fully cooperating with police and hence no need for his custodial interrogation for which he has been taken on a police remand till March 27.

Media trial: Asserting that investigations in the case be fair, transparent and expeditious and the charge-sheet filed immediately if there is any incriminating evidence against Kazmi, the memorandum also accused the police of indulging in his media trial and character assassination by planting all sorts of false stories about him.

"If at all there is any need to provide information to the Press concerning the case, it should be done officially in written press note and the Police must contradict the false reports appearing in the media quoting unnamed sources," DUJ General Secretary S K Pande demanded at a press conference addressed with family members at the Press Club of India.

He pointed out that Kazmi, a free-lance journalist, has been associated with the official government broadcaster as the Urdu news reader of Doordarshan for the past two decades, besides contributing to BBC and an Iranian radio and running own web service, Media Star, to cater to the Urdu newspapers.

He was, in fact, picked up by Doordarshan for the coverage of the second Gulf war in Iraq in 2003 at a time when no journalist was ready to go to the war-torn country, Pande added.

Kazmi's professional work took him to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other Gulf  countries, all recorded on his passport, but this can not be a crime as being made out against him by the police, the journalists affirmed.

"We are given to understand that he is fully cooperating with the 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," the DUJ memorandum said.
A correspondent in New Delhi