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Journos covering encounter thrashed; KEG, other scribe’ bodies condemn forces’ action

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Oct 17: Over a dozen scribes were beaten by the government forces, some of them receiving serious injuries, while covering Fateh Kadal encounter that broke out early Wednesday.

In the encounter, two militants, a civilian and a policeman were killed.

Early morning, videographers and reporters working for various national and local media houses reached Fateh Kadal to cover the encounter but were stopped by the Police from doing their professional duties.

 

“I reached Fateh Kadal at around 7 am along with the two colleagues. We were taking the pictures; suddenly some SOG men arrived and asked us to leave. Before we could have left, they started thrashing us,” said photo journalist, Zia Shakeel.

“There was no provocation from our side. We were doing our professional duties, it was quite unfortunate that Police thrashed us in front of their superiors,” he added.

Video journalist, Arshid Hussain, working with a national news channel said that no firing was going on at the time when the journalists were beaten.

“I was beaten. After taking the video byte of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, central Kashmir V K Birdi, I was just talking to him. In the meantime, an SOG man came and asked me to leave, I told him to wait as I was talking to Birdi. He didn’t listen anything, hit me harshly with a baton and abused me,” he said.

Asking for action against the erring cops, Hussain said that he was doing his professional duties and nothing else.

“It is surprising to see a constable hitting a journo and abusing in front of his superiors. Even officers were seen beating. Many journalists were seen running for safety,” he said.

Denouncing the Police action, a video journalist asked for stern action against the erring cops.

“Under these circumstances, how can we work? The higher ups of Police department should ensure that the scribes do not face any kind of harassment at the hands of government forces,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) strongly condemned the Police action.

KEG said that the police action on the ground suggests that the counter-insurgency establishment wishes to frighten the media and stop this institution from covering anything which the grid dislikes and take over the entire systems and processes.

“We strongly feel that the attack on journalists that too when several senior officers from various security agencies where witnessing the ignominy is aimed to send a strong signal to the media that any reportage contrary to the establishment point of view would be dealt with sternly,” the KEG maintained.

Kashmir Press Club (KPC) also condemned the Police action.

“Many reporters and photojournalists were beaten up while they were delivering their professional duties this morning. One of the injured journalists is also a member of the executive team of KPC,” the spokesman said in a statement.

“It is also being reported that the thrashing took place right in front of senior police officers. The KPC expresses shock over this behaviour by the forces,” the statement read.

Jammu and Kashmir Editors Forum (JKEF) while condemning the forces  action urged the government to ensure safety and protection of the media persons working in Kashmir.

“It is the moral and   constitutional responsibility of the government to provide conducive atmosphere for the media persons,” said a spokesman in a statement.

Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) while condemning the Police action expressed showed serious dismay over the use of abusive language against the photo journalists by the Police officers.

“Two senior Police officers, Superintendent of Police (SP), north and Superintendent of Police (SP) cargo used abusive language.

Their behaviour was “brazen” and “uncalled for” The authorities should take immediate action against them,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The spokesman said that senior Police officers behaved like “ruffians” and not only came in way of the photojournalists performing their professional obligations but also beat them to pulp and threatened them of dire consequences.

The KPPA spokesman said if immediate action was not taken against the two senior Police officers, the photojournalist community would hit the streets in protest.

Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) condemned the manhandling of journalists by government forces.

“The journalists are being stopped from performing their professional duties even as there are clear constitutional guidelines which govern the media in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a spokesman in a statement.

“The incident is also unfortunate as it has taken place in front of senior police officials,” the statement read.

Meanwhile Inspector General of Police (IGP), S P Pani tendered unconditional apology.

“Without going into the context of the incident, I unconditionally apologise to all journalist friends. We will develop Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the crisis situation so that such incidents do not come to fore,” the statement quoting IGP as having told the KJA spokesperson over the phone.


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We stand united with our soldiers: All-party resolution

No call for calm in it disappoints Omar

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New Delhi, Feb 16: All political parties of India Saturday put up a united face and expressed their “determination” to fight militancy following the Lethpora attack, underlining their solidarity with security forces for “defending the country’s unity and integrity”.
A meeting of all political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, passed a resolution condemning the attack and alleged support being given to it from across the border.
The all-party meeting took place in the aftermath of one of the biggest attacks on government forces on Thursday on the highway near Lethpora in Awantipora town, in which 49 CRPF troopers were killed.
Militant organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed the responsibility for it stating that a local recruit of its carried out the attack.
The resolution did not name Pakistan but asserted that India has been facing the “menace of cross-border terrorism” which of late, it added, is being actively encouraged by forces from across the border.
The meeting was convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Condemning the attack, the resolution reiterated that India has displayed firmness and resilience in tackling it.
The parties vowed to stand with the families in their hour of grief.
“…Of late, terrorism in India is being actively encouraged by forces from across the border, India has displayed firmness and resilience in dealing with these challenges. The entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight these challenges. We stand united in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism, defending India’s unity and integrity,” read the resolution passed at the all-party meeting.
The meeting was attended by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, Jithendra Reddy of the TRS, D Raja of the CPI, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Ram Vilas Paswan of the LJP among others.
Naresh Gujral of the Akali Dal, Upendra Kushwaha of the RLSP and Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav are among others who attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah expressed his displeasure with the resolution.
Taking to social networking site Twitter, Omar wrote: “Disappointed the resolution did not include a call for calm. Reports of violence in Jammu & tension in university/college campuses in some states, I would have expected an appeal for calm to have gone with the condemnation & condolences.”

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Army officer killed in IED blast along Rajouri LoC

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Srinagar, Feb 16: An army officer was killed and a soldier suffered injuries on Saturday while defusing and an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Line of Control in Rajouri.

The Major-rank officer was defusing the IED which had been allegedly planted by militants. The officer is from the Corps of Engineers.

The blast killed the officer and injured a soldier who was evacuated to hospital, officials said.

 

The IED was planted 1.5 km inside the Line of Control in the Naushera sector of Rajouri district.

The army has confirmed that it was an IED blast and not a BAT action.

The IED blast came two days after 49 CRPF personnel were killed when a Jaish attacker rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus carrying them in Pulwama district in south Kashmir.

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Militants can’t hide, will be punished: PM

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Yavatmal (Maha), Feb 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that militant groups who carried out the Pulwama attack that left 49 CRPF troopers dead, could not hide and “will be punished” as the government forces have been given a “free hand” to tackle the inevitable.
Paying tributes to two Central Reserve Police Force troopers from Maharashtra and others killed in the deadly attack on Thursday, Modi said the country had “faith and pride in our soldiers and security forces and their sacrifices would not go in vain.”
“Wherever the militant groups and perpetrators may hide, our forces will flush them out and punish them,” Modi said amidst cheers from the gathering of farmers and women here.
“When and how to accomplish this had been left to the security forces,” he said, appealing to the people of the country to be “patient” and repose confidence in the armed forces, “as the militant perpetrators shall not be spared at any cost”, he added.

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