Srinagar: Once again the Jammu and Kashmir Police beat up journalists while they were doing their professional duty, this time while they were covering the protests that broke out after Friday prayers at the Jamia mosque in Nowhatta, Srinagar.
International award-winning photographer Saqib Majid and the cameraman of BBC Urdu, Shafat Farooq, were beaten up outside the Jamia Masjid, both of them told Kashmir Reader. They said they were beaten by a senior police officer when they were taking photos of the protests.
“I was on the side where the police were. As soon as I saw the police moving towards them, I followed them. A senior officer held me by my neck under his arm and then twice slapped my face. He wanted us not to follow them,” Majid told Kashmir Reader.
According to Shafat, he was leaving the scene when a policeman hit him with a gun butt on his back, leaving him in severe pain. He later went to see a doctor, who said it was a soft injury. Shafat said he later went to ask the same policeman about the reasons for beating him up. Other journalists joined and eventually a senior police officer apologised for it.
In a video circulated on social media, a brawl is seen between the police officers and journalists at Nowhatta. Superintendent of Police Sandeep Gupta can be heard shouting at Shafat. Gupta later said he was not beating up the journalists but only asking them to leave.
The journalists had arrived at the historic Jamia Masjid to cover the sermon of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of the Hurriyat Conference, which did not happen because police kept the Mirwaiz under detention at his Nigeen residence. This led to protests after the prayers. Police also fired pellets on the protestors. It was after more than 20 months of house detention that the Mirwaiz was expected to deliver the sermon at the biggest mosque in Kashmir.
Another journalist, associated with the local publication, Kashmir Crown, was reported to be detained for not carrying his press ID. He was later let go.