In the days they searched for JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, the Delhi Police questioned at least five journalists who they believed may have information on the duo’s whereabouts.
Police Commissioner B S Bassi said police had acted within the confines of the law. “When you are investigating a case, you do many things and it will not be fair on my part to discuss what we did in this case. Whatever we do, it is within the confines of the law and… the Constitution. I cannot answer if they were journalists because I cannot discuss what we do during investigation,” he said.
The Indian Express spoke to five journalists who were questioned this time.
Manas Roshan, NDTV: After the uproar over Kanhaiya’s arrest, Roshan had been calling some students for updates on story. At 9 pm on February 21 three policemen in plainclothes knocked on his door. “They asked for me and what I did and seemed surprised when my brother, Nikhil, told them,” he said.
“I only called Shweta and Aishwarya (two JNU students suspended with Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya). I did not call any of the boys because I thought their phones would be switched off. They (police) came with a list.” Roshan said he made no attempts to call any of the students after the February 9 event. “I only tried to get in touch with these students between Tuesday and Sunday.”
Atul Chaurasia, Catch News: He was in office when two persons “from ATS” reached his Kalkaji house on February 20 evening. “They were in plainclothes. My wife called me and gave her phone to them. They asked me about my calls to Riyaz (JNU student Riyazul Haq, against whom police issued a lookout circular). I said I had received a call from Riyaz on February 14 or 15,” he said. He said his association with Riyaz goes back five years when Riyaz worked under him at Tehelka. “Riyaz generally called to ask about the case. I haven’t heard from him since,” he said.
Heena Kausar, The Hindustan Times: Kausar was in her office on September 21 when she got a call at about 7 pm. “The caller… asked if I knew one of the students who had now surrendered…,” she said. The caller said her number had come up in the call detail records of the person. “I asked him to identify himself then,” she said. He said he was an officer investigating the JNU case. “I told him I was a journalist and that I had been in touch with the person for stories for a few days on and after the event, since I had to contact him for quotes,” she said.
Journalist from a Hindi daily: The call came at about 8 pm on February 21. The caller identified himself as an officer investigating the JNU case. The officer asked if he had been speaking to Riyaz. “I told them I spoke to him only before February 9… I had been out of Delhi after that and returned only on February 14. I had not spoken to him since. He asked if I knew Riyaz’s whereabouts, I said no,” he said.
Reporter with English daily: He was in JNU on February 21 covering the events, when he got a call from his mother at about 9 pm. “Two police personnel came to my house… When they started asking about the JNU case, my mother… told them I was a reporter.” The journalist then called one of the officers investigating the case. “He said my name had come up in the call detail records of one of the suspects and that he did not realise it was me,” said the journalist.He told the officer he had spoken to the ‘suspect’ before the event, and a friend later for a story.