One of the three journalists beaten up suffers panic attack in police station, hospitalised
Anantnag: Three journalists were allegedly thrashed and their equipment confiscated by Superintendent of Police (SP) Anantnag Sandeep Choudhry while they were covering the DDC elections being held here in Srigufwara area of this south Kashmir district on Thursday.
The journalists include two of the most senior scribes from the district, Mudassir Qadri of News-18 and Fayaz Lolu of ETV Bharat, while the third is a young new professional, Junaid Lolu, working with TV-9.
Mudassir and Fayaz have been working in Anantnag district for more than a decade.
The trio was at a polling booth in Srigufwara area when the incident took place. “We were interviewing people when some people approached and asked us to accompany them outside the polling booth, where we found a Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) candidate alleging that he and his supporters were not being allowed to vote,” Fayaz told Kashmir Reader.
He said that soon after they finished interviewing him, a senior police officer approached them and asked them to wait for Choudhry, “who he said had to talk to us.”
“But as soon as he (Choudhry) disembarked from his vehicle, he started to beat us. Our equipment, including our phones, was confiscated and we were bundled into a vehicle and taken to Srigufwara police station, where we remained detained for a few hours,” Fayaz said, adding that Junaid had to be hospitalised as he suffered a massive panic attack inside the police station.
The three of them were released after a few hours and their equipment was also handed over to them.
Kashmir Reader tried to get a comment from Choudhry but he did not attend the phone calls. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, asked this reporter to get a quote from the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Kashmir, Atul Goel.
Goel also refused to comment, saying that he did not want to speak out of turn.
“It’s an election related issue and will be addressed in the press briefing by the election commissioner in the evening,” Goel told Kashmir Reader.
State Election Commissioner K K Sharma in his presser maintained that the police were dealing with some miscreants, who were trying to dissuade people from voting, when media persons arrived on the scene.
“The situation deteriorated when the miscreants saw media men and that’s why the police had to separate media from there,” Sharma said, adding that a case against the miscreants has been registered and investigation has been taken up.
Asked whether an FIR has been registered against the police official for the journalists have alleged that they were slapped, Sharma insisted that during the course of the investigation, “against miscreants,” police will try and find out the facts about this incident as well.
He also lauded the role of the media in taking democracy further.
The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) has condemned the incident in strong words and has asked the State Election Commissioner to look into it.
The club said that strict action should be taken against those found guilty for this act perpetrated “in utter disregard of the freedom of the press”. The KPC further urged that the authorities should ensure that an enabling atmosphere is created for the free and fair functioning of the media in Kashmir.