Srinagar: Many photojournalists working for local media outlets said police and paramilitary troopers abused and threatened them in Nowhatta, where they were covering clashes between protesters and government forces on Friday.
“A policeman holding a pellet gun shouted at us ‘tuih chivva yecchaan aen gacchin’ (do you want to get blinded)’. He was effectively threatening us that he would fire pellets at us. ‘Leave then’, he said. Then he abused me in particular,” said a photojournalist on the condition of anonymity as he fears reprisals.
Enraged by the threat, the photojournalists had a heated argument with the forces, telling them that these threats were preventing them from carrying out their professional duties.
“One of our colleagues (Zuhaib) was recently permanently blinded in one eye by pellets fired by CRPF troops in Rainawari. The fresh threat by this policeman has created fear psychosis among us,” said Omar Mehraj, a freelance journalist.
On September 4 last year, day after government forces assaulted several photojournalists at Batamaloo, two photojournalists — Muzamil Mattoo working with Kashmir Reader and Zuhaib Maqbool who works for an online portal — were hit by pellets while covering a protest in Rainawari area of old city.
Muzamil suffered pellet injuries in the head, back and an arm, while Zuhaib was hit in his eye, chest and face. The attack was followed by a heavy criticism from journalist fraternity and other organizations.
Inspector general of police (Kashmir) Syed Mujtaba Gillani told Kashmir Reader, “We will get it addressed.”
Speaking on the issue, Kashmir Press Photojournalist Association president Farooq Javed told Kashmir Reader that the Association will raise the issue with higher officials.
“I wasn’t myself present there. But being a president of a photojournalist’s association, we would talk to higher officials about the issue,” Javed said.