Arrest, harassment and the release of a Journalist

Journalist fraternity Tuesday resented police action of arresting of a senior Journalist in connection with a 28-year-old case. The irony is that police had declared the said Journalist as an absconder, though he routinely used to attend his office and publish his newspaper on a daily basis.

A team from Jammu Kashmir Police on Monday night raided that house of senior Journalist and editor and owner of Srinagar-based Urdu daily Aafaq and picked him up after a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) court issued a summons in a 28-year-old case. The arrested Journalist has been identified as Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, 62, who happens to be a colleague of renowned journalists of Kashmir including the owners of newspapers like Alsafa, Daily Aftab and Srinagar Times. Ironically, the owners and Editors of these three newspapers are also accused in the case and all are dead now.

The brother of arrested Journalist says that it is 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,” said Moirfat Qadri.

Journalist fraternity who resented police action said that it seems to be a message from authorities to scribes to fall in line otherwise they will be framed as well. “It’s really a curious case. Among the 8 accused majority are dead and those who are alive are elderly respected people. The shocking part is the night raid. Qadri is not a criminal but a Journalist and in fact, police could have told him to appear before them,” said senior Journalist Jaleel Rathor to news agency CNS.

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 the 1990s who used to issue statements on a 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 anybody’s cup of tea to ignore them,” said a senior Journalist.

Ghulam Jeelani Qadri was later bailed out by the court. “After his release, Qadri said that there are a large number of pending cases against Journalists. They will target those who will not fall in line from time to time,” he said.

While talking about the incident, Qadri said that a police party from Police Station Shaheed Gunj picked them up. “Even the policemen were unaware of the case and didn’t reveal anything. I am shocked that I was picked up after 28 years,” he said adding that it seems police don’t have any record of the case.