India: Police block journalists covering NIA operation in Pulwama

Police barred two journalists from reporting on a government operation in Pulwama district, in Indian-administered Kashmir, and confiscated their equipment on March 4. The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) condemn police harassment of the media in Indian-administered Kashmir.

On March 4, Indian police stopped  television journalists Qayoom Khan, a reporter for CNN News 18, and Qisar Mir, from TV9, from reporting an operation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Hakripora, a village in Pulwama district, 30 km from the summer capital of Srinagar.  The Kashmir Press Club said police confiscated a camera and mobile phones and deleted material on the operation including photos, videos, messages and contacts.

Journalist Qayoom Khan said: “While I was filming the NIA’s raid in Hakripora at around 15:30, I was shouted at by the police officials who had accompanied the NIA’s team. Later on, (the superintendent of police) Pulmana Ashish Mishra came to me, threatened me not to film the raid and snatched my camera and mobile phone”. Khan was told to pick up his equipment from Kakapora Police station, 3 km away from the raid location. He waited outside the police station for more than five hours for his belongings to be returned.

The ongoing interference of police with journalists reporting has escalated since the Indian government revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. According to Qisar Mir, earlier on February 29 he had also beenprevented from reporting a cordon and search operation (CASO) in Babgund, Pulwama. The IFJ has reported on police detaining, harassing and interrogating journalists on three separate occasions in the last month alone involving journalists Kamran Yousef, Naser Ahmad Ganie and Haroon Nabi.

The Kashmir Press Club said it had been “continuously engaging with the Police authorities at the highest level to advocate its concerns”.

The KPC said: “It once again demands the police to sensitize its officers and allow journalists to work without any hurdle”. 

The IJU expressed its “serious concern at the continuing harassment and attacks on journalists by security persons and police in Kashmir” and urged the government to ensure media rights and safety of journalists in the valley.

The IFJ said: “There is clear evidence of routine harassment of journalists by the police in Indian-administered Kashmir. This has to stop and the officers involved should be appropriately reprimanded on these actions and the right for journalists to report.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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