Police forces thrashed dozens of journalists during the encounter between police forces and terrorists in Fateh Kadal area of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on Wednesday, 17 October, sources told The Quint.
The attack came after scores of journalists went to cover the gunfight in Srinagar, said a senior journalist on the terms of anonymity. Upon their arrival, the senior journalist alleged that he, along with several others, were beaten up by the security forces without any provocation.
Following the attack, Kashmir National Television Journalists Association (KNTJA) and other media associations condemned the incident.
Speaking to The Quint, Danish Ismail, who works as a photojournalist, said the attacks on them occurred after the encounter had ended.
When the journalists tried going near the affected area for news reporting purposes, police forces started screaming at them, and soon, “unnecessarily” thrashed them, Ismail added.
"“We were nearly 200 meters away from the affected area. When we tried going near the spot, police forces started unnecessarily beating us and even used lathis so that we leave the area. All this happened in the presence of senior police officials.” " - Danish Ismail, Photojournalist
Ismail further alleged that to scare the bystanders and journalists away, police forces even started firing into the air and, in some instances, slapped whoever came to inquire about the encounter.
Narrating the incident, a senior journalist, who sustained minor injuries, said:
"“When I resisted the attack, they broke the hood of my camera lens. They started kicking me after that.” " -
Many journalists who were present at the spot have told The Quint that at times, police forces even used their guns to hit journalists and bystanders.
Another photojournalist, Basit Zargar, who was beaten up as well, said this wasn’t the first time police forces were hostile towards journalists.
Zargar claimed that journalists who went to cover the civic polls, which took place in the state last week, were also beaten up.
CJI & OTHER MEDIA ASSOCIATIONS CONDEMNS ATTACK
Following the incident, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Asia has condemned the attack. In a tweet, they said obstructing reporters while they are covering elections and demonstrations is “a direct attack on press freedom”.
Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir should not be assaulting journalists for doing their jobs. Obstructing and beating up reporters as they cover elections and demonstrations is a direct attack on press freedom #JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/9Wt3HBUggl— CPJ Asia (@CPJAsia) October 16, 2018
Kashmir Press Club (KPC), in a statement, also requested that senior police officials should cognisance of the matter and take relevant actions. Shuja ul Haq, President Kashmir Press Club told The Quint:
"“It’s an extremely shameful incident. Such accidents used to happen here over 15 years back. Journalists fraternity has condemned it in one voice and demanded action after necessary enquiry. We are bringing it to the notice of Governor and other top Police officers”." - Shuja ul Haq, President Kashmir Press Club
Speaking to The New Indian Express, an official of the Kashmir National Television Journalists Association said:
“KNTJA has strongly condemned the thrashing of journalists at the encounter site in Srinagar. Journalists were beaten up for performing their professional duties. This is simply a case of highhandedness of security forces.”
WHAT POLICE IS SAYING
Condemning attack on journalists, Swayam Prakash Pani, Inspector General of police, Kashmir assured that necessary action will be taken against those who are found guilty.
"“I went to the spot. We have videos of the spot. Both sides have exchanged fisticuffs. I spoke to the journalists and assured them that we will hold an inquiry and take necessary action. I have apologised to the journalists. We will look into the whole episode.”" - SP Pani, IGP Kashmir to The Quint
(With inputs from The New Indian Express)
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