On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, more than a dozen journalists were harassed by rock-throwing police while covering demonstrations in India’s disputed Kashmir region, local news reported.
The reporters were attempting to cover clashes between youth and police during demonstrations in the regional capital Srinagar following the death of a young man killed by security forces in late April, according to the Kashmir Dispatch.
Syed Shahriyar, a photojournalist, who works with a local English daily, told the Kashmir Reader that police threw rocks at the journalists while trying to end the protest.
Senior officers watched what was happening without stopping it and Shahriyar said the policemen would have roughed up the journalists, but locals gave them shelter.
“This is the gift police has given us on the World Press Freedom Day eve,” Shahriyar told the Kashmir Reader. “We have become soft target of the forces.”
Agence France-Presse photojournalist Tauseef Mustafa gave a similar account. “After Friday prayers, we went to Hyderpora [a part of Srinagar] to cover protests, he told the Global News Service. “But police stopped us from covering them. They abused us and chased us away.”
Zubair Dar is a video journalist who works with Press TV.
“We were doing our professional duty but policemen misbehaved with us like we were criminals,” Dar told Kashmir Dispatch.
This is not the first time that journalists in Kashmir have faced harassment while performing their duties. According to data released by Kashmir Media Service on World Press Freedom Day, 10 journalists have been killed on the job since 1989 and “scores” have been tortured during anti-India and pro-liberation protests just in the past two years.
“The report said that in the occupied territory, almost routinely, the journalists face manhandling, abductions, murder attempts and death threats by Indian troops and all this has made their everyday work extremely difficult,” the Kashmir Media Service said.
For example, on April 24, two photojournalists, Farooq Javed Khan and Javed Dar, were covering local elections in the Kulgam district when police assaulted them and damaged their car, the Kashmir Reader reported.