Govt Bars Hurriyat Presser, Gags Media

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Srinagar: Press bodies in Kashmir Valley are aghast at the police action in which journalists were roughed up while discharging their professional duty and are demanding that the state government act against officers, who had abused authority.

In a statement, the Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) said that media persons, who were on their way to cover a joint press conference called by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik at Hyderpora, were threatened and chased by the police.

“While entire press corps that had assembled to cover the event were threatened and chased, at least two news photographers were beaten for no reason at all,” the KEG statement said adding that there were clear photo and video evidences of the police assault.

According to the eyewitnesses, police foiled scheduled press conference of the three separatist leaders at Hyderpora on Thursday and arrested Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik.

While the three leaders were being whisked away a battery of photojournalists present there started shooting visuals of the police action.

A particular police officer, according to Kashmir Press Photojournalists Association (KPPA),  manhandled few journalists evoking sharp criticism from their colleagues present there.

Giving details sources said that on Thursday morning, Mirwaiz and Malik arrived at the Hyderpora residence of Geelani. However, a group of policemen did not allow them to enter into the house.  Eyewitnesses said that after some minutes Geelani himself came out to receive Mirwaiz and Malik but police physically prevented them from moving ahead.  Police soon arrested the three leaders foiling their meeting and a subsequent press conference. The three leaders were taken to Humhama police station.

As the media men tried to capture the unfolding events, a police official in a fit of rage manhandled senior photographer Tauseef Mustafa of AFP. 

Witnesses said that a policeman in civvies intervened and saved the photographer from the wrath of the said police officer. “The action of police officer was uncalled for. He was trying to stop me from proceeding towards the police vehicle and when I tried to move ahead to take some photographs he caught hold of my neck and dragged me towards wall,” Mustafa said.

Other journalists present on the site also alleged that the police official tried to harass them and stopped them from performing their duties. They appealed police chief to take cognisance of the matter.

The KPPA statement said the DO Police Station Humhama assaulted Mustafa and caught hold of his throat and attempted to suffocate him. The statement said there is clear photo and video evidence offering a clear detail of the police assault.

The members of KPPA later staged a protest demonstration at Press Enclave in Srinagar and demanded action against the DO Humhama for assaulting the photojournalists.

The KPPA statement said if no action is taken against the officer accused entire journalist fraternity will protest on Saturday and boycott all the events of J&K Police.

Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA) also demanded suspension of said cop who was involved in this incident.

Meanwhile, the photojournalists in the afternoon staged protest against the assault on their colleagues at Hyderpora.

The protesting media persons while condemning the police action demanded appropriate action against the ‘erring’ police official.

“The media persons were performing their professional duties but it is unfortunate the police official targeted the photojournalists for no reasons,” they said.

“The police official must be dealt with strictly according to the law,” the protesting media persons said.

POLICE VERSION

SSP Budgam, Waseem Qadri when contacted said that no assault took place but the restrictions had been imposed around the residence of Geelani and the media persons were asked to move back.

“You might have seen the video in which the media persons were trying to enter in the area where restrictions have been imposed. The police officials were asking the media persons to move back however they didn’t pay any heed thereby the officials tried to push them back,” he said. 

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