Joint team to probe journalist of Indian origin
PESHAWAR- Authorities are investigating a British journalist of Indian origin along with his two local helpers in the tribal area for illegal exit and entry to and from the country to Afghanistan. “Amar Deep Basi had been arrested under Foreign Act. The British national produced his press card, which showed his affiliation with a weekly magazine called Sunday Mercury, but failed to register his name at Torkham checkpoint,” said an official at the Pak-Afghan border.
Amar deep Basi will be interrogated by the Joint Interrogation Team (JIT), a combination of several secret intelligence agencies, officials of the political administration in Khyber Agency said. Basi was arrested on Friday. The official said that Basi visited Pakistan a few days back and had acquired visas for Pakistan and Afghanistan, but did not report at the border check post while leaving for Kabul and did the same on return to Pakistan.
“This created suspicion which led to his arrest at Torkham,” he said, adding that Basi was dressed like the local Pushtuns and had grown beard to dodge the border guards. “His origin is from Jalandhar, India, but he is holding a British passport No-0496213,” the official said. Basi, born in 1971, also failed to get the special travelling permit required to pass through the tribal areas of Pakistan on way to Afghanistan.
“A wrest watch camera used for secret photos and a miniature tape recorder plus some photos of religious personalities and buildings of madaris (religious schools) have been found in his possession,” the official said. “I was dressed like locals and had to dodge the authorities because I wanted to see things from close angle,” an officer privy to the investigations quoted Amar Deep Basi as telling investigators.
The reply, officials said, came when investigation officers asked Basi about the illegal entry and exit to and from Pakistan despite having valid visas. His two local helpers, Naoshad Ali Afridi and Khitab Shah Shinwari, are also being interrogated for taking Basi out of he country and bringing him back without government permission.
“His interest in Afghanistan seems to be about religious people,” an officer from the interrogation team disclosed on condition of anonymity. “He was arrested at Torkham because he (Basi) could hardly understand any other language. He replied in English, when the border guards stopped him for checking his identity,” a border security guard told sources.
Pakistan has arrested several foreign journalists in the tribal areas for travelling without proper documents in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks to cover US bombing and operations launched against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. However, all of them were later released.
Source: The News