Days after a close aide of Kenyan President William Ruto claimed that former senior television director Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, who had been missing in that country since July, had been killed along with another Indian national, the Indian High Commissioner in Nairobi met Ruto and shared this with “deep concern” and called for the investigation of the matter to be expedited.
MEA official spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Monday: “We have been in regular contact with the Kenyan government to establish the whereabouts of the two missing Indian nationals, Mr. Mohammad Zaid Sami Kidwai and Mr. Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan.”
“Our High Commissioner in Nairobi, Ms. Namgya Khampa, today called on President William Samoei Ruto to express our deep concern and to request the expediting of investigations into this matter,” he said. “The High Commissioner of Kenya in New Delhi was also summoned to the ministry on October 23 to share our concerns on the matter,” added the MEA spokesman.
Our response to media inquiries about the two Indian nationals missing in Kenyahttps://t.co/eXzMMmvGaJ pic.twitter.com/T3XrnqGJ7i
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) October 24, 2022
The State Department said the “specific circumstances of the kidnapping and the subsequent lack of information are very worrying. We expect the case to be thoroughly investigated.”
Bagchi said the Indian High Commission in Kenya is in contact with and supporting the family members of the two Indians. “The case is being actively investigated by the Kenya Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit (IAU). We have found that several people have been taken into custody in connection with this, including officers from the Kenya Police Force’s recently abolished Special Service Unit,” he said, adding that the ministry continues to monitor any developments related to the case.
It has emerged that Khan, 48, has been embroiled in a bitter struggle between political parties in Kenya, where general elections were held in August this year. William Ruto won the election and became president in September of that year after defeating incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
Khan was reportedly tapped by Ruto’s team, who were in opposition, for helping with the social media campaign. It is understood that this did not go down well with the Kenyan ruling establishment led by Kenyatta. As a result, Khan was kidnapped – a claim backed up by President Ruto’s adviser Dennis Itumbi.
In a post on Twitter, he said the missing Indian was killed by the now-defunct Special Service Unit (SSU), a group accused of extrajudicial killings.
Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and his friend Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, who were part of Kenya Kwanza’s digital campaign team, disappeared from Mombasa Road in July along with taxi driver Nicodemus Mwania. The two worked for Ruto’s campaign, said Itumbi, who was a key figure in the campaign.
He praised them, saying on Twitter, “Sometimes when our team was overwhelmed and we needed graphics, I would send (material) to them and they would interrupt whatever they were doing and do me the favor.”
“They visited Mombasa, Homa Bay, (Masai) Mara, Nyama Choma venues and also loved our dance venues. They invited me to India; I told them that I would visit them after (the) elections. Their eyes were primarily focused on enjoying Kenya as much as possible. When they sat down, they produced very engaging content,” he added.
“As usual, they (Zaid and Khan) always did something special. A meme here, a video there, a Box quote and more,” he said. “We even had a Telegram group that rarely fell silent and had endless ideas.”
Just two days before their return to India, Itumbi recalled learning that the duo had lost a phone during an evening. “You couldn’t be reached. Only recently did I finally get to know her painful final moments in the hands of people whose sole mission was to ensure that Dr. Ruto will not become president even if it means killing people,” he said. “In this case, they killed people whose only fault was being our friends.”
The Twitter posts follow President Ruto’s order last Saturday to order the disbandment of the SSU after an investigation into the disappearance of the two Indians was linked to the entity, according to a Kenyan media report. Officials who served in the unit are also being investigated.
The Foreign Ministry said the Indian government has been in contact with Kenyan authorities on the matter.
Bagchi had said last week: “As far as we know, there were two Indian nationals, Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Zaid Sami Kidwai, and they have been missing in Kenya since mid-July. Shortly thereafter, a police complaint was filed there… A habeas corpus petition was then filed with the Kenyan court. We are aware that the matter is now before the Kenyan High Court and a number of hearings have taken place.”
Khan was COO of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms and former CEO of Indian entertainment channel Star Plus. A friend of Khan’s said Sunday his friends only knew what had been reported in the media.
His friends had previously said that Khan was visiting Kenya as a tourist and his family and friends did not hear from him around July 21. Earlier this month, his friends asked the authorities in India and Kenya for help in tracking him down. Khan, a Mumbai resident, left for Kenya in the last week of June, a friend said last week.
On October 20, his friends shared a note repeating that he was in Kenya as a tourist and had met several Indians there as tourists.