SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir
Two journalists in Indian-administered Kashmir were allegedly assaulted by the government forces during a protest in the capital city of Srinagar on Friday.
Shafat Farooq, a video journalist with the BBC Urdu service and Saqib Majeed, a freelance photojournalist, alleged that they were assaulted while covering the demonstration.
Farooq told Anadolu Agency that after Friday’s congregational prayers were over in the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, clashes broke out near the main gate of the mosque.
The people raised slogans for the release of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a group of several pro-freedom parties, currently under house arrest, when police confronted them.
“While we were trying to cover the protest, suddenly the police told us to move away and started chasing. As I was moving, a police constable hit me on the backbone with a gun butt,” Farooq said.
“I am in severe pain and going to get medical advice now,” he added.
Majeed also told Anadolu Agency that while he was doing his job, a senior police officer grabbed his collar and slapped him on his face. “He almost choked me,” he added.
Some of the videos circulated on the social media showed that over a dozen journalists on the scene were questioning the police behavior and asking senior police officers the reasons for the “assault.”
The police, however, denied that they intentionally hit Farooq with their weapons.
Journalists came to Jamia Masjid after getting information that Hurriat leader Mirwaiz will lead Friday’s prayers after more than 20 months of his house arrest.
However, according to an APHC statement, the government has reversed its decision and will not allow Mirwaiz to leave his home, and additional security forces have been deployed outside his residence.
Journalists’ body condemns police assault
In a statement, the Kashmir Press Club condemned attacks by government forces on journalists who were carrying out their professional duties.
The journalists’ organization urged police officials to train their officers on how to deal with journalists.
“Otherwise, it becomes clear that the intimidation, harassment, and assaults are intended to prevent journalists from carrying out their responsibilities,” the statement said.