Indian envoy to Kenya meets President Ruto as MEA calls case of missing Indians “very disturbing”

Kenya arrests the head of disbanded special squad

October 25, 2022 07:26 am | Updated 08:08 am IST - NEW DELHI

Zulfikar Ahmad Khan.

Zulfikar Ahmad Khan. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Authorities in Kenya on Monday, produced four police officials in the court, related to the disappearance of two Indian nationals who have been missing since July 21. The arrested police officials include the head of the now disbanded Special Services Unit (SSU) and his assistants in the unit that had a reputation for ruthlessness. The Ministry of External Affairs here informed that India’s envoy to Kenya Namgya Khampa met President William Ruto on Monday and conveyed “deep concern” regarding the case. 

“The case is under active investigation by the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) of Kenyan Police. We have noted that several people have been taken into custody in this connection including officials of the recently abolished Special Services Unit of the Kenyan Police. The specific circumstances surrounding the abduction and subsequent lack of information is very disturbing,” said the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi. 

The Ministry of External Affairs has been closely following the case but this is the first time that it described the case as “very disturbing” in the remarks that came soon after the arrest of the head of the now-defunct SSU. “The said suspects were arraigned in court today, 24th October 2022, where the prosecution made an application for 21-day custodial orders, vide Miscellaneous Application No. E249/2022, to enable the investigations to be completed,” said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of Kenya. The missing Indians Zulfikar Ahmad Khan, former COO of Balaji Telefilms, and his friend Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai left for Kenya in the summer and were in contact with their families and friends till July 21 before they went missing. Denis Itumbi, an aide to President William Ruto however announced last weekend that the two Indians and their Kenyan driver were kidnapped by the members belonging to the SSU and eliminated. 

Mr. Khan’s friends have maintained that they would wait for the forensic examinations to be over in this case which may take some time. News reports in The Nation, Kenya’s leading newspaper informed on Monday that some clothes and human remains have been discovered in the mountains north of the capital Nairobi were sent for examination. Mr. Khan’s friends had informed that he was last contacted on July 21 but the press release from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions revealed that Mr. Mohamed Zaid Sami and Mr. Khan were kidnapped on July 23.

The official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs announced that the Kenyan High Commissioner was summoned on Sunday to convey concerns about the case. Mr. Zulfikar Ahmad Khan worked as one of the top officials of Balaji Telefilms, a leading entertainment house in India where he was employed till May this year. The Hindu has learned from reliable sources that Mr. Khan left the organization because of financial losses that the company had faced in the recent past. The case acquired a political colour when Mr. Itumbi, claimed in Facebook posts that Mr. Khan and Mr. Kidwai had supported President Ruto’s campaign with creative inputs for the digital campaign. From the details, it appears that Mr. Khan went to Kenya as a tourist but as of now his visa status is not clear and it is also not clear if a person holding a tourist visa in Kenya could work “for free” - as claimed by Mr. Itumbi - as a political consultant the African country.

The policemen arrested and produced before the court on Monday include Chief Inspector of Police Peter Muthee Gachiku, head of the SSU, Sergeant Francis Muendo Ndonye, Corporal John Mwangi Kamau, and Corporal Joseph Kamau Mbugua who were attached to the SSU. Two more individuals - Edward Kamau Wanjiku and Fabian Koshn Mjomba - were arrested on October 6. The Kenyan authorities are yet to reveal what might have brought Mr. Kidwai and Mr. Khan into the radar of the unit which was known for its crackdown against criminals, terrorists, and narcotics networks. Initial reports had described Mr. Khan as a “cyber expert” which has been denied by his friends. The Director of Public Prosecutions recognized the “complexity of the matter” but assured that rule of law will be upheld in the case. 

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