Vineet Narain’s contempt trial starts tomorrow

New York, August 8, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the safety of journalist Vineet Narain, whose contempt of court trial has been abruptly moved up to August 9. It was originally scheduled for September 3.

Narain is the founding editor of the New Delhi­based investigative journal Kalchakra. He faces contempt of court charges in Jammu and Kashmir State, 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.

Narain has yet to receive any official guarantee of his personal security, although he has said repeatedly that his life would be in danger if he appeared in court in Jammu and Kashmir State, the trial venue.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has offered no response to a letter dated July 6 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 protection for his trial. [Read the letter]

Since our July 6 letter, Narain has been harassed repeatedly by Jammu and Kashmir State authorities. On August 4, twelve Jammu police officers came to Narain’s office to arrest him (the journalist was not in Delhi at the time). The court has also allocated 30,000 rupees to run Delhi newspaper advertisements declaring him a “proclaimed offender.” Narain is now in hiding.
CPJ sent a second letter to Prime Minister Vajpayee today, reiterating our deep concern about threats to Narain’s personal security.