Rights

Kashmir Press Club Condemns Harassment of Journalists in Pulwama

The two video journalists were allegedly stopped by the police on March 4 and their camera and two mobile phones were also taken away from them.

New Delhi: The Kashmir Press Club has condemned the harassment of two journalists in South Kashmir by the police.

The two video journalists, Qayoom Khan and Qisar Mir, who were working for CNN-News 18 and TV9 Bharatvarsh were allegedly stopped by the police on March 4 in Pulwama. Their camera and two mobile phones were also taken away and returned to them after almost five hours.

The two were stopped by a police officer in front of the SSP Pulwama at 15:30 hours on March 4 while they were on duty covering a raid by a probe agency at Hakripora Pulwama. According to written testimony that Qisar Mir submitted to the Kashmir Press Club, their phones were also snatched by the police officer.

“We were covering a raid [by a probe agency] at Hakripora Pulwama where police stopped [us] to cover [the] story. I was told later [at 8 pm] to come [to] Kakapora Police station, [where we] were given phones and camera, erasing all data related [to] the story,” Mir said, and added that several journalists were being harassed and abused while reporting in South Kashmir.

Mir also alleged that he had been stopped at Babgund Pulwama and thrashed by the army personnel on February 29 during a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) and had also been used as a “human shield” by soldiers.

Also read: Backstory: The Kashmir Model of Humiliating Journalists for Media Control

The Kashmir Press Club noted that it had engaged with police authorities at the highest level to convey its concerns about harassment of journalists by the police since Article 370 had been scrapped. The Club also urged the police to sensitise its officers and allow journalists to work without any obstacles.

In February, the Kashmir Press Club had expressed concerns over instances of journalists in Kashmir being intimidated by the J&K Police and asked the government to stop the practice of summoning journalists and muzzling free speech.

The Club also noted that in the aftermath of the reading down of Article 370, the Centre had stopped enabling journalists and media personnel to operate freely in the Valley. It also maintained that blaming the media and journalists in Kashmir for all problems was “misplaced”.

The full text of the statement is reproduced below:

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The Kashmir Press Club has taken a strong note of the harassment of the two video journalists at the hands of police in south Kashmir.

Two cameramen Qayoom Khan and Qisar Mir, working for CNN-News 18 and TV9 Bharatvarsh, were stopped by the police from conducting their professional work on March 4 in Pulwama. Not only this, their camera and two mobile phones were snatched and returned after almost 5 hours.

As per the written testimony submitted by Qisar Mir to the Kashmir Press Club, the duo was stopped at 15:30 hours on Wednesday by a police officer in front of SSP Pulwama when they were covering their professional duties. Mir said that their cameras and phones were snatched by a police officer when they were covering a raid by a probe agency at Hakripora Pulwama.

“We were covering a raid (by a probe agency) at Hakripora Pulwama where police stopped (us ) to cover (the) story. I was told later (at 8pm) to come (to) Kakapora Police station, (where we) were given phones and camera, erasing all data related (to) the story,” Mir said.

“Day by day media persons in south Kashmir (are being) harassed and abused while covering their professional duties”, he added. According to him, he was stopped at Babgund Pulwama and thrashed by the Army personnel on February 29 during a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO). He also alleged that he was “made human shield” during the CASO by soldiers.

These latest incidents indicate that the harassment of journalists and media workers continues unabated in the Kashmir region and is tantamount to muzzling the press.

The Kashmir Press Club wants to bring it on record that it has engaged with the Police authorities at the highest level to convey its concerns about the harassment of journalists by the police since August 5. The Club management once again demands the police to sensitise its officers and allow journalists to work without any hurdle.