In the hours after Afzal Guru’s execution, officers from the Special Cell of the Delhi Police detained a senior journalist and locked his young children into the bedroom of his flat before finally releasing him.
Iftikhar Gilani, who works for DNA, is the son-in-law of the Kashmiri separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. In 2002, he was arrested by the Special Cell on false charges of violating the Official Secrets Act and held in Tihar jail for several months before the then government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ordered the police to drop the case.
“I was putting my bag in the car to leave for office around 10-30 a.m. when two persons approached me, asking for [my father-in-law’s] house … I told them he lives in another block at which one of them requested me to accompany them. On the way, they told me they are from the Delhi Police Special Cell. When we reached there, I saw a large number of men in plainclothes. As I started to leave after pointing towards the flat, they grabbed me and virtually dragged me to the first floor,” said Mr. Gilani.
“After 15 minutes, I saw they were escorting my wife also to this flat. I got worried, my school-going children were alone in my house. I repeatedly asked them why they are detaining me. All the time, they were quite rude, threatening and warning me of dire consequences… After five hours, an officer type person came and shouted my name and then announced, ‘You are free and you can leave this house’ … When I reached my home, some 7-8 unknown people were there in the drawing room and living room and they had kept my children locked in the bedroom… [They] were terrified.’’
Though Iftikhar Gilani, Syd Ali Shah Geelani and the Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were all kept under detention, the Delhi Police deny any such step was taken.
“I have no issues with what the Government wants to do to maintain law and order,” Iftikhar Gilani said. “Though Mr. Geelani is my father-in-law, I have repeatedly said I have nothing to do with his politics. I owe my living to journalism for the past two decades in Delhi. It was ridiculous on the part of the authorities to behave like this. I am so scared. I have tried my best to raise my children in an atmosphere of peace and compassion. I have no idea what I should do to prove myself as a peace loving and law abiding citizen,” said Mr. Gilani.