Srinagar: A group of photo and video journalists covering Friday protests in Hyderpora area of city outskirts were assaulted by cops when the area was witnessing anti-India demonstrations.
Over a dozen photojournalists and videographers were covering clashes between protesters and government forces near Jamia Masjid Hyderpora, when cops abused and assaulted them, eyewitnesses said.
The photojournalists covering the protests included Tauseef Mustafa (AFP), Farooq Khan (EPA), Yasin Dar (AP), Umer Mehraj (APTN), Imran Nissar (WNN), Zubair Dar (Press TV) Syed Shehriyar (Kashmir Observer) and Gulzar Ahmad of Daily Aftab. The incident that came on the eve of World Press Freedom Day has caused outrage among the media fraternity.
“The police action is unwarranted and uncalled for. We were not carrying guns. We were taking pictures when the cops trained their weapons on us. The attitude of police has always been hostile to us,” a photojournalist told Kashmir Reader.
He said that an officer who was present on the spot did not stop his men from attacking the journalists. “Instead, the officer provoked them,” he said. “When will police understand the nature of our job? We’re always at the receiving end. There has to be an end to the frequent highhandedness by the uniformed men,” he added.
Syed Shehriyar, who works with a locoal English daily, said the cops also hurled rocks at the photojournalists while chasing away the protesters. He said the policemen could have roughed them up had the locals not given them shelter.
“This is the gift police has given us on the World Press Freedom Day eve. We have become soft target of the forces,” he said.
Earlier on April 24, Farooq Javed Khan and Javed Dar, both photojournalists, were assaulted by police in Kulgam district of south Kashmir when they were covering the Lok Sabha polls. The cops had also allegedly damaged the car in which the duo was travelling. Following the incident, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Abdul Gani Mir had announced a probe.
Meanwhile, the journalist fraternity will hold a peaceful protest in Press Enclave on Saturday to protest the highhandedness of the forces.