Journalists¿ Appeal To The Authorities In The Iftikhar Gilani Case

IN Media Freedom | 01/09/2002


Iftekar Geelani, is New Delhi bureau chief of the Indian daily Kashmir Times and also correspondent for the Pakistani daily The Nation. He is also the son in law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Iftekar Geelani was arrested on June 9 and charged under the Official Secrets Act. The police were granted a further five days to hold him for questioning. He was arrested at his New Delhi home by tax department officers and police. Evidently the IT authorities found nothing incriminating because the police booked him under the Official Secrets Act. He was accused of storing information in his laptop computer about India¿s military presence in Kashmir. He pointed out that this material was from a 1997 US State Department report that had already been published in the Indian daily The Hindu.

The other seizures include visa forms for Pakistan.

For journalists to be in possession of excerpts of a 1997 US State Department report should not be deemed a crime. We treat it as a conspiracy to tarnish his image and to put curbs on freedom of press. We are hoping for support among worldwide journalist fraternity to express solidarity for Iftikhar and rally behind him against his arrest in a totally fabricated case.

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

Executive Editor

Kashmir Times

Journalists¿ Appeal To The Authorities In The Iftikhar Gilani Case

Iftikhar Gilani , the New Delhi bureau chief of the respected Jammu-based Indian daily, Kashmir Times, was arrested on June 9 under the Offical Secrets Act. Gilani has accreditation with the Government of India¿s Press Information Bureau. According to media reports, the police claim to have recovered a document pertaining to Indian troop movements in Kashmir and blank Pakistani visa forms. Gilani and his wife say that the document in question is a newspaper article he wrote several years ago based on a published pamphlet. As for the visa forms, it is not uncommon for journalists who travel to Pakistan for professional or personal reasons to keep blank visa forms.

Whatever the merits of the case, we as journalists would urge the government to ensure that the investigation is fair and that Gilani does not face any harassment or ill-treatment at the hands of the authorities. Any information in his possession must also be evaluated in the light of his professional requirements as a journalist and any evidence or charge the police has against him must be made public.

Aunohita Mojumdar and others

Posted June 20, 2002




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