Srinagar: After the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) and Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) condemned the manhandling of journalists by government forces near the gunfight site in Fateh Kadal area of Srinagar, Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) SP Pani extended “unconditional apologies” to the journalist fraternity and assured action in the case.
“Without going into the context of the incident I unconditionally apologise to all journalist friends. I assure to look into it because we don’t want any unpleasant thing happening between police and media,” Pani told the KJA spokesperson over phone.
He assured the journalist body that police will develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) so that such incidents are not repeated.
“We have to work in crisis situations, so SOP will be developed for both the parties to prevent such incidents,” Pani said.
Two militants, a civilian and a policeman were killed in Fateh Kadal in an overnight gun battle that began Tuesday night. The house in which the encounter took place caught fire and when reporters and photographers were covering the incident, policemen physically assaulted them. Almost 20 journalists including photographers, videographers and TV reporters were beaten up. Some of them sustained serious injuries and are currently in hospital.
The KEG said that the police action suggested that the counter-insurgency establishment wanted to frighten the media.
“We strongly feel that the attack on journalists, that too when several senior officers from various security agencies were witnessing the ignominy, is aimed to send a strong signal to the media that any reportage contrary to the establishment point of view would be dealt with sternly,” the KEG said.
“The beating of journalists by police and paramilitary men is becoming a routine now. In today’s incident, a senior police officer was watching as his subordinates were beating the journalists,” the KEG said.
The KJA expressed shock over the incident and said that police and other government forces have been harassing and assaulting journalists repeatedly.
“Journalists are being stopped from performing their professional duties even as there are clear constitutional guidelines which govern the media in Jammu and Kashmir,” the KJA said, adding, “The incident is also unfortunate as it has taken place in front of senior police officials.”