Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 27. Dubbed as a Russian spy after being arrested by the Punjab Police, it’s justice at last for Olga Timoshik. In India to collect data for an exhibition “India-Siberia 2010″, the photojournalist today heaved a sigh of relief after Justice Nirmaljit Kaur of the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the FIR against her.
She was arrested by the Punjab Police and allegedly subjected to third degree interrogation for 10 days during her police remand. The cops also allegedly launched a “character assassination campaign” in newspapers and “widely publicised” the “confidential details of her private life”.
This was not the end of troubles for her. She was charged with the offence of instigating a German to overstay in India.
The startling claims were made by the Russian journalist in her petition filed through counsel SS Behl for quashing of the FIR registered under the provisions of the Foreigners Act on May 25, 2010, at Nangal police station in Ropar.
The High Court was told the police focused on Olga after a German, Thomas Kuhn, was arrested, as he could not produce his passport. Kuhn told the police that his journey with Olga started after they met on a train; and Olga took his passport to get the visa extended. The prosecution claimed she never returned it to Kuhn.
She was described as a co-accused on June 12, 2010, and was arrested soon after despite full cooperation.
Behl told the court that Olga was intensely harassed “in police custody and through the Press later”. “It seems that it was an attempt to extort a confession from her. She was dragged in as an accused on flimsy grounds, and her legal rights were not read to her.”
She was “paraded through the neighbourhood”, was forced to appear before the media and the story of a Russian spy with her snapshots was widely publicised in channels and newspapers, Behl added.
On December 8 last, Kuhn pleaded guilty “probably to get out of jail and country”. But, the petitioner, Behl contended, has been “falsely charged with offence of abetment /instigation, which never took place”.