Beating or harassing journalists covering Kashmir conflict is nothing new, but in the ongoing unrest, scribes are becoming soft targets of forces, especially of those brought in as additional assistance from the Centre.
The pressmen have been working tirelessly under the prevailing circumstances, but frequent "harassment and rude behaviour" hampers their free movement and affects their professional work. Many senior journalists assert that they haven't seen such curbs or the "nature of behaviour" by the forces deployed on ground over the past 26 years.
"This is for the first time; we are facing such rude behaviour from the forces," said a senior photographer with over 30 years of experience.
Habib Naqash, photo editor Greater Kashmir was pushed back by the forces at Karanagar when he was on way to SMHS hospital to perform his professional duties.
"On Saturday evening, I was heading to SMHS, but was asked to go back despite the fact, I told the forces that I am from the press," said Naqash. "We have not seen such curbs and curfew even in 1990s when militancy was at its peak. At least, members of fourth estate should be allowed to perform their professional duties."
Many lay-out designers of various newspapers narrate the similar ordeal while travelling back to their respective homes in the evening hours.
"As I stepped out of my residence to board office vehicle, a heavy deployment of forces including police and paramilitary CRPF shouted at me to go back ," said Sheikh Pervez, a senior layout designer at Greater Kashmir, who resides at Nowhatta area of old Srinagar
Drivers ferrying the staff bear the brunt as they have to travel to various areas to pick up the staff members.
"I have been ferrying newspaper staff for the past 20 years, but haven't seen such a rude behaviour of the forces. There is no respect for the curfew passes issued by the District Magistrate Srinagar," said Showkat Ahmed, who ferries Greater Kashmir staff from old city areas
On Saturday late evening, senior reporters of Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Uzma were harassed near Zero bridge by the Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB) and asked to switch off the lights of their vehicles. "We felt as it was the end. They cocked their guns and for a moment we thought, they will open fire," said Bilal Furqani of Kashmir Uzma.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Lone when asked why forces don't honour the curfew passes issued by him, said: "I will look into the issue and ensure that curfew passes issued to media persons are honoured."