India: Madhya Pradesh police arrests
New Delhi, 7 April 2008:
Late last evening the police in the BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh arrested a Delhi-based journalist who had gone there to report on recent arrests in the state.
The journalist is Mr Nadim Ahmad, a staffer of The Milli Gazette fortnightly English-language newspaper published from Delhi since 2000.
Ahmad was arrested by the police early 6 April evening in village Aroda/Choral under Balwada Police Station, Distt Khargone, Indore Range. Contact with Ahmad was possible until late in the evening on his mobile phone (# 09911334768). However, since this morning he is not picking up his phone while Police Inspector Sunil Visthre (mobile # 09926670086), who took Ahmad in custody, is not responding to calls on his mobile.
Enquiries with highest police officials in Indore have failed to help trace the whereabout of the arrested journalist.
The Milli Gazette editor, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, has written in this matter to Mr Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister, MP Governor Mr Balram Jhakar, MP Chief Minister Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan, MP home minister Mr. Himmat Kothari, as well as to top police officials in MP state.
If the journalist remains untraceable, Dr Khan plans to file a habeas corpus suit in the Supreme Court of India tomorrow, 8 April.
Issued by The Milli Gazette
D-84 Abul Fazal Enclave-I
Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110 025
Tel. (011) 26942883, 26947483, 26952825
Following is the text of the letter sent by Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor,
The Milli Gazette, on 7 April 2008 via fax, email and courier to a number of central and MP state authorities:
“This is to inform you that we are a registered English-language fortnightly newspaper published regularly since January 2000 (registered RNI number DELENG/2000/930). A few days back we sent Mr
Nadim Ahmad, one of our full-time staff reporters, to Sarangpur, Madhya Pradesh, to report on communal violence there. At about same time news of arrests of alleged SIMI members also came from an adjacent area in the state, so I instructed him to go to Indore as well to report on the situation there and to visit some places from where arrests were made. Mr Ahmad reached Indore yesterday, 6 April 2008, and after making enquiries about the location of the concerned areas, went to village Aroda/Choral under Balwada Police Station, Distt Khargone, Indore Range (Thana phone No. 07280-261237) whose in-charge is Town Inspector Mr Sunil Visthre (mobile no. 09926670086). Inspector Visthre spoke to me last night at around 8-9 pm using Mr Ahmad’s mobile no. 09911334768 asking why he was in the area. It was explained to him that Mr Ahmad was a full-time staff reporter of this paper and he was there at my instructions to report on the recent arrests. Inspector Visthre told me that there was nothing to worry about and Mr Ahmad is helping enquiries and he is not under arrest.
My last contact with Ahmad was at 11.06 pm yesterday (6 April 08) on his mobile phone in which he said he is alright and was answering questions by the police; Inspector Visthre also spoke to me over the same phone at that time and told me that there is nothing to worry about as they were only trying to establish the reason why Mr
Nadim was in the area.. Mr Nadim Ahmad’s last call was at 1.28 am on 7-4-08 which I could not receive as I had gone to bed by that time. In the morning I tried to contact Mr Ahmad using his mobile number but there was no response. Thereafter, I phoned Balwada Thana at the above phone number and was informed that Inspector Visthre has taken Mr Ahmad to Indore in the morning at 6 AM. Efforts to contact Mr Ahmad since then have failed; Inspector Visthre too is not taking up calls to his mobile. After this, I phoned Indore Superintendent of Police Mr Anshuman Yadav on his mobile no. 09425115144 at 11.30 am (7 April 08). He told me that he had no information about this matter.
As of now, my apprehension is that Mr Nadim Ahmad has been arrested and kept under custody at an unknown place for no reason whatsoever as he was only discharging his duties as a journalist to investigate matters of common and media interest. I fear that under the current charged atmosphere in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Ahmad may have been falsely implicated in some matter and illegally deprived of his liberty. I request you to immediately intervene in this matter and ensure the freedom of press guaranteed by our Constitution and laws.”