Srinagar, Jan 22: At least four photojournalists covering a gunfight in southern Kashmir’s Shopian have suffered pellet injuries.
Local reporters said that a group of photojournalists was covering the gunfight in Shirmal orchards when the government forces shot several pellet fires at them injuring many.
The injured include Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi; Rising Kashmir photo journlaist Nisar-ul-Haq; Kashmir Essence reporter Junaid Gulzar, Mir Burhan of ANN.
The photojournalists have suffered injuries in face and neck and have been shifted to primary health centres for treatment.
Reporters without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, on Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ ‘violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’
“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.
“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said that the ‘indiscriminate use of force will always be counterproductive.’
Taking to Twitter, Omar termed the incident as ‘highly unfortunate’.
“Highly unfortunate reports about journalists injured, including some with pellet injuries, while covering clashes in South Kashmir. I condemn this incident. The indiscriminate use of force, often without any accountability, will always be counterproductive,” Omar tweeted.
Meanwhile, various Kashmir journalist associations on Tuesday condemned the attack on photojournalists by the forces during the gunfight.
Jammu Kashmir Editors Forum on Tuesday condemned the attack on photojournalists and urged government to ensure safety and protection of media persons working in Kashmir. “It is their constitutional and moral duty to provide a conducive environment for media persons.”
JKEF while strongly condemning the incident, called for a strong action against those who were involved in the act.
It further impressed upon the state and central Governments to improve their record for press freedom, “rather than resort to authoritative measures, that further malign their image”.
JKEF seeks intervention from J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik and DG Police Dilbag Singh to put an end to the attacks on journalists, said the statement.
Kashmir Press photographers association (KPPA) said the photo journalists visited the encounter spot in Shopian to carry out their professional duties. “They were showered with pellets from a close range,” it said in a statement issued here.
“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties,” the statement said.
The association also urged the Governor Satya Pal Malik and Director General of Police Dilbag Singh to look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring personnel.
Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA) also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian.
“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets,” KVJA statement said.