Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
India 12 December 2006

Call for explanations about journalist arrested in Kashmir

Reporters Without Borders has urged the Indian authorities, particularly Home minister Shivraj Patil, to provide clear and objective information about the detention of Abdul Rouf, a journalist on the Srinagar News, and his wife Zeenat Rouf.

"The rule of law should be guaranteed in Kashmir as elsewhere in India. It is unacceptable that the security forces arrest, detain and charge journalists in the most dubious circumstances,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We want explanations about the detention of Abdul Rouf and his wife from both the State and Union authorities. If this arrest is linked to his work as a journalist, he should be released immediately,” it added.

The organisation pointed out that another reporter, photo-journalist Maqbool Sahil, has been held without trial in Kashmir since September 2004.

A judge in the capital Srinagar on 9 December 2006 ordered the release on bail of Zeenat Rouf, who is currently in custody at a police station in Rambagh, but police have so far refused to release her.

Since 4 December, Abdul Rouf and his wife have been held under an arms law. Police who presented a first report (FIR 341/2006) accuse them of sheltering armed separatists at their home. The couple’s families deny the accusations, saying that they have never committed any crimes. Between 21 November and 4 December, the journalist was held at the Special Operations Group (SOG) centre without ever going before a judge.

A police officer in Srinagar, reached by telephone by Reporters Without Borders, refused to give any information about the reasons for their detention.

Described by his colleagues as "calm and loyal in his work", Abdul Rouf was a typographer for various publications in Srinagar for 15 years. For the past four years he has worked as deputy editor on Srinagar News.

The couple’s two daughters, Rafiya and Rubiya, and their son, Amir, who is a deaf-mute, told how the SOG agents searched the family home in Srinagar on the night of 21 November. They have been forced to take refuge at the home of a neighbour. They have been unable to return home since the house has been sealed and “police are preventing the children from having access to their clothes, books and toys,” the journalist’s brother told the newspaper Greater Kashmir.

Photo-journalist Muhammad Maqbool Khokar, better known as Maqbool Sahil, has been held in Kashmir since 18 September 2004 under an emergency public security law. Despite calls for his release from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and the National Human Rights Commission the security services refuse to set him free.

In this country
25 March - India
Newspaper editor gunned down in Assam
18 December - India
Journalist Lenin Kumar Roy and two assistants freed on bail
27 November - India
Journalist investigating drug trafficking gunned down in Bihar state
24 November - India
Journalist gunned down in Assam, second to be killed on northeast in past week
19 November - India
Trainee journalist gunned down in Manipur, local media stage protests

in the annual report
India - Annual report 2008
India - Annual report 2007
India - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised