SRINAGAR: A group of journalists were chased and assaulted with batons by police in full public glare to prevent them from covering the Muharram procession in the nerve centre of Srinagar on Tuesday.
The police action resulted in injuries and damage to equipment of journalists when they were merely doing their professional duties. Videos and photos splashed on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter showed policemen including their officer holding sticks chasing away and beating journalists on the road with utter disregard.
Some of the journalists who were present at the spot and received the thrashing told Kashmir Reader that the attack came when a police officer named ‘Aftab Ahmad’ abused and pushed some photojournalists who were capturing police lathi charge on Shia mourners. The mourners carrying black flags had taken out a procession in Lal Chowk to commemorate Muharram. Early in the morning, government forces including police and CRPF were deployed in strength in several Srinagar areas to prevent the mourners from taking out procession.
Amid this, many people carrying flags were able to reach Jehangir Chowk. A photojournalist Sajad Hameed who was at the spot covering the Muharram procession that he received a few baton thrashing on his legs and his camera was broken too. “It resulted in damage worth over Rs 20,000,” he added.
“Police officer Aftab Ahmad abused another journalist. We asked him not to do so. In response he attacked us, charged on us, in which many were minorly injured,” Sajad added.
According to him, the police officer Aftab Ahmad also pushed photo journalist of Hindustan Times Wasim Andrabi for nothing. He said the journalists were spread in groups capturing the procession from various angles when they were beaten.
“It was when another police officer joined in and asked them not to beat us that the beating stopped,” he added.
Andrabi told KNO that the policemen “from Shergarhi Police Station led by SHO Aftab Ahmad, beat them to the pulp for no reasons”. “We were even told that (an) FIR will be registered against us,” he added.
A video in social media showed that Aftab went berserk on a group of journalists on Tuesday morning.
“We were Covering the protest. When I saw a policeman attacking a fellow journalist l, I rushed to the spot to check what was happening. In between there was a lathi charge. We moved to a secure place, ” said photojournalist Faisal Khan.
“The cop did not listen to us for a moment and we found wisdom in escape” he added.
In the past police have said that police will act professionally while handling journalists on the ground and will make efforts to prevent the attacks.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar Sandeep Choudhary was not available for the comments when reached by Kashmir Reader.