Forces fire pellets at photojournalists, 4 injured

Forces fire pellets at photojournalists, 4 injured

RSF, KEG, Omar, Akther, others condemn attack

Four photojournalists sustained shotgun pellet injuries in Shirmal area of southern Shopian district where local residents were protesting while a gunfight between militants and government forces was underway on Tuesday.

The injured photojournalists were identified as Waseem Andrabi who works with Hindustan Times, Nisar-ul-Haq of Rising Kashmir, Junaid Gulzar of Kashmir Essence and Mir Burhan of ANN News.

 All of them received pellets in their faces.

Narrating the sequence of events, Andrabi told   they were moving towards the gunfight site when the forces fired pellets at them.

“The government forces and locals were engaged in the clashes when we reached the village. As we moved towards the gunfight site we came across a barricade put up by some youths,” said Andrabi.

He said the protesting youths stopped throwing stones and let them go when the journalists told them the purpose of their visit.

“All of us had prominently displayed our Press cards and some were wearing bulletproof jackets. But as soon as I raised my camera to show it to the police and CRPF men positioned at the other end, pellets were showered on us,” Andrabi said.

CONDEMNATIONS

Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at photo-journalists in southern Kashmir’s Shopian district.

In a statement on twitter, RSF said the government forces’ “violence against Kashmiri photojournalists is unacceptable”.

The Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) strongly condemned use of pellets against a group of photojournalists who were covering the aftermath of an encounter in Shopian.

The KEG said this is not for the first time that the law-enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. “This has become a routine”.

Every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the KEG said, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing Fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the KEG said, and demanded a quick and time-bound investigation into the incident and an action against the personnel found guilty.

“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in twenty-first century,” the editors’ body said.

In a statement, Kashmir press photographers association (KPPA) said the photo-journalists visited the encounter spot in Shopian to carry out their professional duties “but they were showered with pellets from a close range”.

It urged the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into it.

Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA) also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said that the ‘indiscriminate use of force will always be counterproductive.’

“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.

Former finance minister Syed Altaf Bukhari condemned the assault on photojournalists in Shopian who sustained pellet injuries while delivering their professional duties.

“I strongly condemn this unfortunate incident in which our four photojournalists are reported to have sustained pellet injuries today at Shopian,” Bukhari said, adding that use of “excessive force will always prove detrimental to the efforts of peace”.

He urged the governor to take “immediate cognisance of the use indiscriminate force against these journalists who were discharging their professional duties in Shopian”.

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad Tuesday urged governor Satya Pal Malik to initiate a high-level and time-bound judicial probe into the attack on journalists while discharging their professional duty in Shopian.

Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai has strongly condemned the forces’ ‘assault’ on journalists during the encounter in Shopian district while they (journalists) were performing their professional duties.

National Conference also condemned the use of pellets against photojournalists covering protests in Shopian and alleged thrashing of a young boy at Habba kadal, Srinagar.

The Kashmir Press Club also condemned the attack on photojournalists in Shopian, terming it as an “unfortunate incident”.  

Former minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar in a statement, while wishing the injured scribes speedy recovery, said that the photojournalists are on the opposite side of the crowd while covering the protests and if the pellets can hit them, they can hit anybody “and it indicates a very wanton and indiscriminate use of the weapon”.

He urged governor’s administration to take action “urgently and allow scribes to perform their duties without fear”.

J&K Congress party strongly condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian.