Pic by, Shah Jahangir/FK
Srinagar, March 16:Photojournalists here in Kashmir capital Srinagar Thursday staged a protest demanding action against a particular police officer who according to them manhandled a senior photojournalist.
The protesting photojournalists who assembled here in Press Enclave Srinagar under the banner of ‘Kashmir Press Photographers Association’ (KPPA) shortly after the incident while seeking the personal intervention of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged that it has become a routine for some police officers to harass and manhandle journalists in Kashmir Valley.
“The today’s incident is not a new one. Such incidents have been taking place on daily basis while authorities didn’t take note of them. The behavior of the ‘arrogant’ police officer outside Hurriyat headquarters on Thursday made it clear that some police officials are hell-bent to choke the voice and rights of the scribes in Kashmir Valley,” Farooq Javaid, President KPPA said.
Narrating the incident, the victim photojournalist Touseef Mustafa who works for the International Agency ‘Agence France Presse’ (AFP) told CNS that police stopped them when they tried to enter in Hurriyat headquarters at Hyderpora, where a joint meeting of Resistance leadership was underway. “As police arrested Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yaseen Malik and tried to bundle them into police vehicles, we as part of our profession and duty clicked photographs. To my utter surprise, a Sikh police officer stopped me and tried to snatch my lens. When I resisted, he manhandled me. The behavior and action of the said police officer was uncalled for,” Mustafa said.
‘Greater Kashmir’ Lensman Mubashir Khan said that a police Rakshak ‘intentionally’ hit him while he was performing his duties at the site. “We fail to understand we are being repeatedly targeted. Police and Government should understand that we are apolitical and only do our job for our respective media houses,” Khan said.
The protesting journalists demanded action against the erring police officer.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) and Kashmir Editors Association (KEA) have strongly condemned the police action against newsmen while covering the attempted joint press conference of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik at Hyderpora. While entire press corps that had assembled to cover the event were threatened and chased, at least two news photographers were beaten for no reason at all, a statement of the guild said.
There are clear photo and video evidences offering a clear detail of the police assault.
KEG has taken a strong exception to the misuse of power for muzzling the media. This has, unfortunately, been a routine than an exception. Last time, while photographers were covering an event in Bijbehara, cops actually fired a projectile on one of them outside the hospital gate, thus pushing him to hospital for many weeks for a broken arm.
Given the frequency with which the police is abusing its authority to restrict the role and responsibility of the media, KEG is seeking an intervention of the government at the highest level to ensure that state’s principal arm does not exhibit an abnormal growth.
KEA spokesperson while demanding stringent punishment to the arrogant police official has asked Chief Minister and Police Chief to ensure safety of scribes working in and outside the field. “Photographs and video evidences of today’s unfortunate incident are enough to initiate action against the police officer,” he said. (CNS)