THE circumstances of the arrest of the journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in March seem to have got mired in controversy. Kazmi was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the sticky bomb attack in Delhi on February 13, where an Israeli diplomats wife was injured. His judicial remand kept getting extended as the Delhi Police claimed that the investigations were at a crucial stage. On July 20, his remand was extended for another 90 days.
Kazmi was charge-sheeted only on July 31. He has been accused of conspiring with foreign nationals for the terror strike. Since Kazmis arrest, the Delhi Police have issued three rejoinders in response to news reports published in leading national dailies that seemed to implicate the Government of Iran in the attack.
The first was issued on March 22 following a news report in a prominent daily in which Kazmi was alleged to have made calls to over a dozen numbers in Iran. The police were quoted as having said that there was an international plot and that a diplomatic channel could have been used to transport the bomb. The rejoinder, issued by the Public Relations Office (PRO) of the Delhi Police, stated: It is clarified that the investigations conducted so far in the referred case have not indicated any such possibility as claimed in the news item. It is regretted that the correspondent has attempted to give some balance of authenticity to the news item attributing the statement to an officer. [T]he rebuttal to the news item may please be published in order to put the matter in proper perspective with the same prominence for your esteemed readers.
On July 5, the PRO issued a rejoinder along similar lines after a news item appeared in a leading English daily with the heading Kazmi tells police Iran Guard unit attacked Israeli diplomat. The rejoinder said: The headline and contents of the news item are factually incorrect and imaginary. The concerned correspondent has not bothered to verify the facts from the concerned officer before filing the report on such a sensitive matter. Needless to say, such unverified/unconfirmed reports lead to unnecessary speculation and confusion in the minds of your esteemed readers and in this case in the minds of the diplomatic corps. In view of the gravity and sensitivity of the matter, it will be appreciated if the concerned correspondent is suitably advised to exercise restraint from filing such... news items.
The latest denial was issued on July 30 after a news item appeared in another leading English daily and on the television channel owned by the same media group. The story appeared on the day that Kazmis revision petition was to be heard. The news item stated with certainty, quoting sources from the Delhi Police, that the police had concluded that the suspects were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and that they had discussed the plan to attack Israeli diplomats in India and other countries with Kazmi in January 2011. The PRO issued a prompt denial.
The Delhi Police denied that it had sought more details of five members of the IRGC. The only thing it officially admitted to was seeking details of six persons of Iranian origin suspected to be involved in the attack. The police also said that the reportage giving a detailed account of the planning, execution and accommodation details of the members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the capital for the attack on Israeli diplomat was incorrect. The PRO again requested that the rejoinder be displayed prominently to set the record right. It was published but on an inside page, with the correspondent sticking to his story and reiterating the contents of the letter rogatory that had allegedly been sent by the police to Iran, Israel, Thailand, Georgia and Malaysia seeking their help in the investigation. What is interesting is that the Ministry of External Affairs circulated the police rejoinder to its beat correspondents.
On the one hand, there seems to be a desire to quickly fix responsibility for the attack and to nail Kazmi and Iran. On the other, there are the varying versions and selective leaks followed by the embarrassing rejoinders. All this seems to indicate that the various investigative agencies are not working in tandem. These kind of reports do influence public opinion. It is not clear whether this is the intention.
I took the case only because Kazmi said that I should bring out the truth and not bother about his acquittal, Kazmis counsel, Mahmood Pracha, told Frontline. He said that as the charge sheet had been filed, his bail could be argued on merit. The only problem is I do not have access to the charge sheet and am relying on what has come in the media. Incidentally, my client and I will be the last to see it, he said. The order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate that the names of witnesses should not be divulged has been flouted brazenly, he said. The state is trying its best to defeat the provisions of the Constitution in this case. Whatever is coming in the press are confessional statements, which are not admissible in any court of law, he told Frontline.T.K. Rajalakshmi