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4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident

Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.

The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.

 

Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.

Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.

Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.

“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.

Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.

The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.

Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.

“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said

The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.

Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.

“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.

Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.

In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’

“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.

“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.

“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.

He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.

KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.

“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.