Police beat photojournalists in Pulwama

Greater Kashmir

Two photojournalists were allegedly beaten up by the police on Tuesday while they were covering an encounter in Pulwama district of southern Kashmir.

They have been identified as Kamran Yusuf of Newsclick and Faisal Bashir, a freelancer.

The incident took place in Marwal Kakapora area of Pulwama where security forces and militants exchanged fire on Tuesday morning.

An unverified video clip on social media showed a group of policemen hitting Yusuf with lathis while he’s trying to move away from the spot of encounter.

Kamran, wrote a detailed Facebook post about the incident:

“Today, while I was taking pictures at Marwal Kakapora, I was attacked and brutally beaten up by policemen who were accompanying a deputy superintendent of police. There were at least ten policemen who pounced on me and hit me with riffle butts without any reason. I tried to plead with them without any success. If I hadn’t gathered my strength and escaped, I have no doubt that they would have killed me. It was a targeted attack on a group of photojournalists and all of us were only doing our job. I have serious injuries. My body feels completely broken. I am in severe pain. Several of my colleagues who were with me at the spot doing our job were also beaten up. I don’t understand why are policemen so violent and brutal towards journalists who are only doing their job. Why has attacking journalists in Kashmir become a normal affair? How can a senior police officer ask the policemen accompanying him to target and ruthlessly beat up journalists who are busy doing their work? Why is there no accountability for this behaviour? And most importantly, why are policemen – most of them belong to our own society – so brutal towards us? I am a professional photojournalist and taking pictures/ videos and telling stories is my job. Journalism is not a crime. Please let us do our job. Please don’t attack us, please don’t beat us up and break our bones.”

The other photojournalist, Faisal Bashir, said: “They shouted at us and asked why we were clicking pictures,” adding that while he ran away, policemen beat him. “One of the blows also landed on my camera. I have swelling on my hip and can’t walk properly.”

DIG Southern Kashmir, Atul Goel, denied any beating of photojournalists. “We stopped them from entering into the cordoned off area,” Goel told the Greater Kashmir. He said it is not permissible to allow anybody to shoot live encounters. “Once you enter a cordoned off area, you can be hit, we stopped from entering the area.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently said: “The general trend is towards the deterioration of the working conditions of journalists covering conflict in Kashmir. Covering the Kashmir conflict has become more dangerous for journalists. Over the years, several Kashmiri journalists have been killed and many arrested.”