The Kashmir Press Club on Friday condemned the alleged police assault on two photojournalists, who were carrying out their professional duties in downtown Srinagar.
The two journalists – Shafat Farooq working as a cameraperson for the BBC, and freelance photographer Saqib Majeed – were allegedly assaulted by the police when protests began in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area on Friday afternoon.
“As we were covering the protestors, there was a chase by the police,” Farooq told The Kashmir Press Club management. “After the situation had settled a policeman came from nowhere and hit me in my back. Later on as the situation subsided; I asked the cop why he hit me. However the senior police officials present on the spot apologised for what had happened.”
Farooq said that he was suffering from severe back pain due to the assault. Majeed alleged that a police officer caught him by the collar, slapped him multiple times and even dragged him on the road.
“While taking note of this assault and condemning the police behavior, the Kashmir Press Club urges upon the police authorities to sensitise its lower ranks about its conduct/response towards the press/ media persons during such contingent situations,” the association said in its statement. “The KPC also hopes that the press is allowed to conduct its professional duties without fear and coercion.”
The Kashmir Press Club has repeatedly raised concerns about the treatment meted out to journalists in the Union Territory.
News website The Kashmir Walla on Wednesday moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court asking for a stay on the proceedings and quashing of the first information report in relation to a news report. The complaint was filed by the Indian Army for the report, published on January 27, about its personnel allegedly forcing a school in Shopian district to hold a Republic Day event.
On February 21, the association expressed concern over the case registered against Kashmiri journalist Sajad Gul, who has alleged that he was being harassed and falsely implicated by the authorities for doing a story about a demolition drive in a village in Bandipora’s Hajin area recently.
In July, the police had summoned The Kashmir Walla’s editor-in-chief for coverage of a gunfight in the Nawakadal neighbourhood in downtown Srinagar on May 19. Two militants had been killed in the gunfight, and several houses were destroyed. This was the second time Shah had been questioned on the same matter.
On April 18, freelance photojournalist Masrat Zahra was charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her social media posts. Just three days later, the police filed a case against freelance journalist Gowhar Geelani for “unlawful activities” on social media.