Vineet Narain contempt trial postponed

New York, August 10, 2001—Yesterday’s scheduled contempt of court case against journalist Vineet Narain has been postponed due to violence in Jammu and Kashmir State, the trial venue. It is not known when the next hearing will be held.

Narain is the founding editor of the New Delhi­based investigative journal Kalchakra. He faces contempt charges based on a December 16, 2000, Kalchakra article in which Narain alleged that Jammu and Kashmir High Court justice T.S. Doabia had been unduly influenced by his friendship with Indian Supreme Court chief justice A.S. Anand in deciding a land dispute.

Jammu City was placed under curfew after three Muslim militants opened fire at a local train station on August 7, killing 11 people, according to international press reports. The curfew went into effect on August 8 and prevented Narain from reaching the court, the journalist told CPJ via e-mail.

Narain, who is currently in hiding, said that the Jammu and Kashmir High Court could not convene as planned due to “hostile conditions in Jammu.”

The curfew was lifted yesterday, August 9, according to Indian and international press reports.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has not yet responded to a July 6 letter from CPJ and Human Rights Watch urging him to order an immediate inquiry into possible political motivations behind Narain’s prosecution, and to provide him with adequate security protection during the trial. CPJ reiterated these requests in a separate letter that was faxed to the prime minister on August 8.