ISLAMABAD, Jan 6: Zahid Ghani, 60 plus age bracket, suffering from a medical condition, claiming to be an international journalist and having links with former US president George W. Bush and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, was arrested for not paying his hotel bills on October 10, 2012.
He was however later released.
On September 22, 2012 Zahid Ghani checked into a local hotel, telling the receptionist that he was a regular guest at the hotel since 2001 and the Press Information Department (PID) would pay his bill.
After more than two weeks of staying in the hotel and enjoying the food and other services, when the hotel management contacted PID, the government department refused to pay Mr Ghani’s bill.
On October 8, the hotel management asked Mr Ghani to pay the expenses incurred during his stay.
A cheque valuing $3,192 was made out to the hotel management by Mr Ghani. However, when the bank was contacted, its representative said the account was closed.
Fearing fraud, the hotel management placed a security official outside Mr Ghani’s room, not permitting him to leave, till the matter was resolved. Later the police were contacted.
On October 10, 2012, SHO Secretariat police station arrived and took Mr Ghani into custody. He was put behind bars after registration of a case in response to a complaint lodged by the chief security officer of the hotel, Javed Akhter.
The next morning (October 11) Mr Ghani was produced in the court of civil magistrate from where he was given into police custody on physical remand.
He was then sent to Adiala jail on judicial remand from where he was released on bail on October 19.
On November 7, another case was registered against him in Kohsar police station in response to a complaint lodged by Mr Akhter, relating to the cheque written to the hotel that had bounced.
On November 22, Mr Ghani tried to lodge a complaint against the staff of the hotel in the office of Senior Superintendent of Police Islamabad, seeking registration of a case but his application was not entertained.
In his complaint, Mr Ghani claimed that the hotel staff had kept him locked in the hotel room, denying him food, which in a way threatened his life because he suffered from a medical condition.
Later he moved an application in the court seeking direction in the registration of the case.
But he was again arrested and shifted to Adiala jail, after his interim bail was cancelled on December, 3, 2012 and remained there till December 20.
During his detention, the court accepted his petition and directed the police to record his statement and proceed strictly in accordance with law on December 10, 2012.
After his release, he met with the SHO Secretariat and on December 27 a case was registered against the hotel staff – Manager Rizwan Saeed, Deputy General Manager Salman Saeed and Chief Security Officer Javed Akhter on charge of PPC 342 (wrongful confinement). But no arrest has been made so far.
Investigation officer in the case SI Shahid Mehmood told Dawn that the accused – staff of the hotel – obtained bail from the court of law.Mr Ghani also filed an application in the office of SSP Islamabad on January 2, against the staff seeking direction to amend his previous FIR, according to his statement and transfer the investigation to another officer.
He said that he was seeking the payment of bills as normally the PID obliged journalists and claimed that previously his bills were paid by the department.
The hotel’s public relations officer, when contacted, expressed ignorance over the issue and said he was on leave for the last 10 to 15 days.
Secretary, Ministry of Information Chaudhry Rasheed Ahmed was not available for comments, despite several attempts to contact him.
However, an official of PID on condition of anonymity confirmed that Mr Ghani had come to their office and had met with some officers. However, the PID officer expressed ignorance over payment of bills, clarifying: “PID never paid bills of journalists.”