Journalists Assaulted in Northern Kashmir

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned to hear of an assault on

journalists by police and other security personnel in the Arampora area of the

north Kashmir town of Sopore

on December 7.

 

According to local sources, six journalists, part of a large

group that had gone to the area to report on local perceptions of the ongoing

election campaign in the state of Jammu

and Kashmir, were injured in the attack.

 

The injuries suffered by Mukhtar Khan, of the Associated

Press, and Tauseef Mustafa, of Agence France Presse, are reported to be

serious.

 

Syed Muzaffar (Srinagar Times), Habib Naqash (Greater

Kashmir), Bilal Bazaz (Imarat), Mohammad Afzal (Associated News of

India) and Fayaz Kabli (Reuters) were also injured.

 

According to witnesses, the journalists were covering a

street demonstration involving several local residents, mostly young people,

who had come out in support of a campaign to boycott the state-wide elections.

 

Personnel of the Jammu

and Kashmir police and the Central Reserve Police

Force (CRPF) caned the demonstrators and fired numerous teargas canisters.

 

The IFJ is informed that a senior police official instructed

his men to beat the journalists covering the demonstration, supposedly as a

means of dispersing the protesters.

 

After the incident the troops and police enforced strict

restrictions over the movement of media personnel covering the polls.

 

In the old part of Baramulla, also in north Kashmir, a team of journalists from the Etalaat newspapers

was threatened by a senior police official, who blamed the media for provoking

protesters.

 

The police also reportedly refused to honour the letter of

authority issued by the Election Commission of India, which allows media personnel

to enter polling stations.

 

The IFJ understands that the journalists of Kashmir have lodged a formal complaint with the police in

Sopore and that the principal official of the Election Commission in the state

has promised to conduct an investigation.

 

“The IFJ urges the authorities to conclude their

investigations at the earliest and institute appropriate sanctions against the

officials responsible for these most recent attacks on media freedom,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide