IT has been more than two months since the journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi was arrested by the Special Branch of the Delhi Police under the non-bailable Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He was remanded in police custody for 20 days and then in judicial custody for more than 40 days. Under the Act, an accused can be held without any charge being brought against him for as long as 180 days.
Kazmi was picked up on March 6 as he emerged from the India Islamic Centre at Lodi Road in central Delhi and detained for over nine hours before his family even got to know about his whereabouts. His alleged crime was that he had provided reconnaissance support to the attackers of an Israeli diplomat. The arrest memo mentions his time of arrest as 11-30 p.m., 12 hours after he was actually picked up by the police. Also, he was apparently interrogated by unidentified persons, for which the Special Branch was reprimanded by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Vinod Yadav.
No charges have been made against Kazmi yet. Also, the police are still quite clueless about the identity of the sticky bomb attackers. The Delhi Police behaves very peculiarly. We only get to know of my father from the media. The police produce Kazmi Saheb at a time not notified to us and in a court that is different from the one mentioned to us. The last hearing was on May 5, and we were told that he would be produced at 2 p.m. The police produced him two hours earlier in a different court. We have demanded that at least when he is produced in court, there should be either his lawyer or his family members there. We are being misguided by the police, Shauzab Kazmi, elder son of the journalist, told Frontline. These things are very upsetting. Sometimes the police say that they have video-conferenced the hearing and that is why our family or the lawyer could not be contacted. My father has told us that he is only interested in the truth to come out and is unperturbed about the length of his stay in judicial custody. We do not even know what the specific charges against our father are.
Kazmi was initially remanded in police custody for 20 days. But four days before the remand expired, he was remanded in judicial custody without any notice being given to his family or lawyers. His bail application came up on March 30, but the hearing was adjourned as the prosecution lawyers were not present. On April 3, when the bail application came up for hearing, the Magistrate, Vinod Yadav, held that global inquiries into the bombing might get compromised by his release. He also acceded to the prosecution request not to discuss the evidence in open court. But this has not deterred the Delhi Police from leaking information time and again selectively to the media. It is the phone records of Kazmi that are now being used as evidence of his being in touch with the assailants. Those who are defending him believe that these records pertain to his professional work.
Meanwhile, his family had to explain why Kazmi's wife, Jahanara Kazmi, had some Rs.19 lakh in her account. Suspicions about the sum, which by no means can be said to be a large figure, were flagged in a section of the media as being part of payoffs made to Kazmi. It is equally baffling that just as the Scooty allegedly used for the reconnaissance was lying in the Kazmi porch waiting to be picked up by the police, the suspicious transfers were lying in Jahanara Kazmi's account waiting to be scrutinised and analysed by the Enforcement Directorate. For someone to have taken part in an international conspiracy to be so foolish as to keep evidence handy is improbable. The family explained that the money in the account were remittances from Jahanara Kazmi's son from an earlier marriage. She had been previously married to Kazmi's long-deceased elder brother.
It is clear that the momentum of support for Kazmi may peter out if the case drags on and his incarceration continues. There is little doubt that the strategic and political relationship that India has developed with Israel may have an impact on Kazmi's incarceration. This is the opinion gaining ground not only in India but in international circles too.T.K. Rajalakshmi