SRINAGAR Showing urgency that liberty of a journalist is not barred and press is not trampled, a court in Srinagar granted bail to senior journalist and a known public figure Ghulam Jeelani Qadri who was arrested by police during a midnight raid in a case registered in 1993.
The police was left red-faced after the local courtChief Judicial Magistrate granted bail to the Editor of daily Afaaq and raised questions about investigation, pointing out that the police had cleared the scribe twice in the past 29 years for passport.
The Court has shown urgency that liberty of a journalist is not barred and press is not trampled, advocate Tassaduq Khawaja, who led a team of lawyers to defend Qadri before the court of CJM, told reporters.
The court released Qadri on bail after furnishing personal bond and surety of Rs 20,000.
Police has been directed to explain its position that if the warrants were issued in 1993 why same were not executed all these years, advocate Tassaduq said.
The court also questioned how a passport was issued to Qadri and his antecedents shown to be clear if he was a ‘proclaimed offender’. Police has been asked to inform the court what it did to trace the ‘absconding’ journalist all these years, lawyers said.
Qadri has been part of various government bodies, including Press Accreditation Committee and Press Advisory Committee of J&K Legislative Assembly during the period, police says he was untraceable.
Directing the head of concerned police station to present himself before the court with the report, the CJM has fixed the next of date of hearing on July 31.
Editor Afaaq, was arrested during a mid-night raid in a case registered in 1992 and according to police he was arrested as court had issued a warrant against him under CrPCs section 512 (proclaimed offender).
The senior journalist was arrested during the midnight raid soon after he reached home in citys Balgarden area from his Press Enclave office. The arrest sparked concern among journalist fraternity.
Police later said Qadri was wanted in a case registered in 1992 against him and eight other journalists when he was running now defunct local news agency JAK News (Jammu and Kashmir News).
Three of the journalists against whom case has been registered have since passed away and they include late Sofi Ghulam Muhammad editor of Srinagar Times.
According to PTI, the law under which Qadri was arrested deals with intention to overawe the government as by law established or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people or to alienate any section of the people or to adversely affect the harmony amongst different sections of the people. The case pertains to publishing of news items of terror organisations in 1990.
Mari’fat Qadri, brother of detained journalist described the police action as ‘sheer harassment’.
Mr. Qadri was not allowed to even step inside the house or change his clothes. He would have presented himself before the police in case of any summons. The way the arrest of my brother was made shows that the aim was to harass him and his family without any rhyme or reason, he said.
It was 1992, when police had filed a case against the editors of various newspapers for publishing the press statements of the then militant outfits. There were dozens of militant outfits operating in 1990s who used to issue statements on regular basis. There was no internet those days. Sometimes, pistol borne militants or sometimes their associates themselves used to visit the newspaper offices with a press release and it was not anybodys cup of tea to ignore them, said a senior Journalist.