I know him as an honest and honourable person, says Saeed Naqvi

“My father is a national hero. He was the first person from Asia to cover the Iraq war in 2003. He has been a Press Information Bureau-accredited journalist for the past 25 years. He has done nothing illegal. All allegations levelled against him are baseless,” said Shauzab Kazmi, the eldest son of freelance journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi who was arrested by the Delhi Police for his alleged involvement in the assassination bid on an Israeli diplomat here on February 13.

Mr. Shauzab Kazmi, who has just completed his MBA, broke down while pleading his father's innocence before the media. “The scooty that the police have seized from our house and about which the media has reported was lying there for the past two years. It belongs to my uncle from Meerut, who had bought it to reduce his travel expenses while he was here for treatment. He had parked it at our residence and it had not been in use since then,” he said.

The press conference was organised by civil society representatives, including senior journalists, at the Press Club of India on Friday.

Describing Mr. Kazmi as an honourable and honest person, veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi said: “I do not intend to link this particular unfortunate incident with any political event in the country. It is simply a coincidence, or it may not be one, that just when we were watching television looking at the election results a dear colleague of ours, one whom I personally have known for 10-15 years, was coming out of the India Islamic Cultural Centre at 11-30 a.m. on March 5 when some policemen in plainclothes asked him to get into their car. What transpired thereafter we do not know, the family knew nothing about it.”

Mr. Naqvi said he called up his colleagues, Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju, Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and others, asking them to do something about it. “I know him as an honest and honourable person…He did some terrific work for me when we were covering the occupation of Iraq in 2003. He knew several languages, Urdu, Persian and Arabic, which should have been an advantage, but apparently it is being held against him,” he said.

“Recently there was a story of a young boy who was in [jail] for 14 years. There have been numerous, countless cases where people have been picked up and no conviction has been effected. Now they are raising the bar a little more. We cannot make allegation, we can only speculate. Is the bar being raised by arresting a high-profile journalist and testing how many of us can be cowed down? This is an attack on all of you,” said Mr. Naqvi, quoting a famous poem: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Condemning the arrest, Delhi Union of Journalists general secretary S.K. Pande demanded that Mr. Kazmi be released on bail as he was cooperating in the probe, and let the law take its course.

In a related development, Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari met Mr. Kazmi's family.

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