SRINAGAR: Senior photojournalists Tauseef Mustafa and Mubashir Khan on Thursday were assaulted by police during a press conference called by pro-freedom leaders at the Hyderpora residence of Syed Ali Geelani. “A police officer dragged me and held me by the throat. He abused me and threatened me of dire consequences. I don’t know the reason for the assault,” Tauseef said.
Many journalists had gathered outside Geelani’s residence to cover the press conference. The police did not allow the journalists to go inside and instead threatened and chased them away. “The policemen on duty did not allow us to do our duty. They even tried to hit one of our colleagues with their Rakshak vehicle,” the president of the Kashmir Press Photographers Association, Farooq Javed Khan, said.
The Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA) later held a meeting and condemned the assault on an Agence France Presse (AFP) photojournalist and other photo and video journalists.
The KVJA demanded the suspension of the police officer responsible for the assault. “We appeal to the authorities to order an impartial inquiry into this incident as soon as possible,” the KVJA said in a statement.
Protests erupted in Parraypora and Hyderpora areas in the afternoon with scores of youth attacking the police personnel there with stones. According to eyewitnesses, the youth also targeted several police vehicles parked on Airport Road with stones. The government forces fired teargas shells at the youth to disperse them. Following the clashes, all shops and business outlets were closed in the area.
A police spokesman said there was apprehension of “breach of peace” outside the residence of Geelani at Hyderpora during which the road leading to Airport got blocked.
“ Police present had to intervene to ensure smooth flow of traffic. During this some photojournalists who were trying to approach to the residence of Geelani were requested not to proceed ahead as it would have escalated the situation. The Photo journalists remained adamant and tried to proceed ahead without giving any heed to the police request,” it said.
The higher officers of the police have taken cognizance of the matter, it added.