Media Release: Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political Pressures


Media Release: India

February 25, 2013

Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political
Pressures

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the grant of bail
to senior journalist
http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-deeply-concerned-over-criminal-c
harges-against-indian-investigative-reporter> K.K. Shahina, in the southern
Indian state of Karnataka after a hearing in a district court on 22
February.

Shahina, who currently works for Open magazine in the state of Kerala, south
of Karnataka, faces charges of criminal intimidation of witnesses following
a story she wrote for the weekly magazine Tehelka. The story which appeared
in December 2010 cast doubt on the charges of terrorism brought against a
prominent Islamic cleric from Kerala state.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011, Shahina was granted
anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court in July 2011. Following
summons issued after charges were formally laid against her in January this
year, Shahina appeared before a court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district of
Karnataka, to renew her bail.

IFJ sources indicate that the courtroom where the bail hearing was scheduled
was besieged by activists of the right-wing political group, the Bajrang
Dal, on 22 February, just as Shahina made her appearance.

Shahina and friends, who accompanied her to the hearing, were reportedly
threatened by the Bajrang Dal activists who also insisted that a
cameraperson show them the visuals he had recorded, to ensure that they
could not be identified in public.

The IFJ joins partners in India in urging the authorities in Karnataka state
to ensure that conditions for a fair trial are maintained.

“We see this prosecution as an effort to silence fair and independent
reporting through legal injunction and harassment”, said the IFJ
Asia-Pacific.

“If the victimisation of a journalist is further compounded by an atmosphere
of fear and intimidation created in the environs of the courtroom hearing
her case, then we fear the likely chilling effect this could have on free
and fair reporting”.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on  +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ifjasiapacific>
@ifjasiapacific

 

Journalist Shahina, media person intimidated outside court #Vaw


By Newzfirst Correspondent2/22/13

Coorg – Alleging that Journalist Shahina and a media person – present at the spot – were intimidated by a group of right-wing activists outside the Sessions Court in Coorg district of Karnataka, an activist present at the spot said that the Police is doing nothing to stop their bullying.

Journalist Shahina K K, who previously worked with Tehelka, had come to the Sessions Court in Coorg to seek bail. She was accompanied by media persons from the Media One Kerala media channel.

“Although Shahina has been granted bail in her case, about 8 to 10 right-wing activists are intimidating the Media One channel persons here. They asked them to show the visuals recorded in their camera after which they demanded that the visuals be deleted,” Jisha, an activist who is present at the spot, told Newzfirst.

“The police, which is present here, is doing nothing to stop the bullies” added Jisha.

Shahina, in her article written while she was still working with Tehelka, had showed that witnesses in the Bangalore serial blasts case were fragile, false and forced. Following the publication of this article, she was implicated under charges of section 506 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The accusation of Karnataka Police is that she ‘intimidated the key witnesses’ in the blasts case during the course of her interviews taken for the article.

 

IFJ Deeply Concerned over Criminal Charges against Indian Investigative Reporter


Media Release: India

January 15, 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely concerned to learn of the criminal charges filed against investigative reporter K.K. Shahina by police in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Shahina, who currently works with the weekly magazine Open, faces charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy and intimidation of witnesses with intent to commit a crime. The chargesheet filed in the sessions court in the district of Kodagu in Karnataka state, also indicts her under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is most commonly invoked to deal with terrorist offences.

These charges stem from a story published under Shahina’s byline in the weekly magazine Tehelka in December 2010, which appeared to cast doubt on the prosecution of a prominent Islamic cleric and political figure on terrorism charges.

Shahina who then worked as correspondent for Tehelka in the state of Kerala, based her story on interviews with key witnesses in the case against Abdul Nasar Mahdani, an Islamic cleric who heads the Peoples’ Democratic Party, active mainly in the state of Kerala. Mahdani has since been arrested and charged by Karnataka police for conspiracy to detonate a series of low-intensity bomb blasts in the state capital city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) in July 2008.

Shahina’s story cited several of the witnesses named by the Karnataka police as saying that their testimony has been misinterpreted or distorted in making out the charges against Mahdani.

In March 2011, Shahina was honoured with the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding woman media person. The awards citation mentioned her investigative work in defence of civil liberties, among other contributions.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011, Shahina approached the district court in Kodagu for anticipatory bail, but was turned down. It was only in July 2011 that the Karnataka High Court granted her provisional immunity from arrest. With charges now formally registered in the sessions court, she will be required to appeal for renewal of her bail and also travel from her base of Kochi city in Kerala, to Madikeri in Kodagu district for every hearing.

The IFJ calls on the authorities in Karnataka state to reconsider their intent to prosecute Shahina, whose work has been an example of investigative journalism in the cause of civil liberties.

“We see this prosecution as an instance of seeking to silence fair and independent reporting through legal injunction. We fear that the process of the law, with the demands it makes on the time and energy of the defendant, is often punishment in itself and will severely impair this journalist’s professional effectiveness.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific