Srinagar: Three journalists were allegedly thrashed by police personnel while they were covering the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Fayaz Lolu, Mudasir Qadri and Junaid Rafiq also claimed that their equipment was seized by the policemen who took them to a police post after physically assaulting them.
“SSP Anantnag Sandeep Choudhary objected to our coverage of polling station, where people complained that voting has not started even after the scheduled time. When we reminded the officer that we were just doing our duty, he slapped me and my two other journalist friends,” Qadri said.
He said that he and two other journalists Junaid Rafiq of TV 9 and Fayaz Lolu of ETV Bharat were bundled in a gypsy and whisked to Srigufarwara police station.
“It all happened after we interviewed PAGD candidate Nisar Ahmad and other voters at the polling station. Polling had not started even an hour and a half after the scheduled time,” Qadri said.
He said he and two other scribes were detained at the police station for over 90 minutes during which all their equipment, including cell phones were confiscated by the police.
At the police station, he said, another journalist Junaid Rafiq complained of breathlessness following which he was shifted to a local hospital where his oxygen saturation was reading below 64.
Lolu, who works as a stringer with ETV Bharat told journalists that he and two other scribes were beaten up by police while they were discharging their professional duties at a polling station in Lever area of Anantnag on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the alleged beating of journalists has evoked sharp condemnation from the media fraternity, social and political parties of the Valley.
KEG Concerned At Recurrent Attacks
Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has expressed its serious concern over the use of force against three freelance reporters, contributing to three TV channels, while covering the DDC polls in Anantnag.
Three TV freelancers Fayaz Lolu (ETV Bharat) Mudasir Qadri (News 18 Urdu) and Junaid Rafiq (TV 9) alleged that they were beaten in Srigufwara in presence of the SSP. They said their equipment was seized and they were taken to the local police post.
The Guild is surprised over the reason that the cops resorted to force when everything around was normal. The three TV reporters revealed that they had recorded a political activist’s complaint about the polling and were told by a duty officer that the SSP was on the way and wanted to give his version.
As the officer’s vehicle reached the spot, he avoided giving them a bite and instead started beating them. They said they were taken to the police station and their equipment was seized. During their stay in the station, one of them had a panic attack and was taken to hospital.
By now, the equipment has been returned to them and they have been sent home.
KEG is concerned over the recurrence of these incidents in which reporters are being subjected to violence while discharging their professional duties. Apparently, there is no reason for today’s incident to happen. Why should a reporter be beaten when the officer has the right to not respond to a question? KEG hopes the LG Manoj Joshi administration will look into the incident and ensure that this practice of abuse of authority is put to an end.
KPC Condemns Assault On Journalists
Earlier the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) also condemned the thrashing of three freelance journalists.
According to a statement, the KPC said that the incident happened when these individuals were covering the ongoing DDC elections in Srigufwara area of Anantnag district this morning.
In a distress call to the club Fayaz Lolu who works as a stringer with ETV Bharat stringer told the KPC management that he along with two other Journalists Mudasir Qadri (stringer with News 18 Urdu) and Junaid Rafiq (TV 9) were “beaten” today while covering the ongoing DDC elections in Srigufwara area of South Kashmir.
He, according to KPC, also said that their news gathering equipment was also seized by the police. Fayaz Lolu alleged that it was when the SSP of Anantnag arrived on the spot that they were beaten up ruthlessly and taken to the nearest police post. Fayaz further stated that Junaid had been injured and was in hospital.
The KPC terms this incident unfortunate and calls for a thorough inquiry into the incident. We hope strict action is taken against those found guilty in this act perpetrated in utter disregard of the freedom of the press. The KPC further urges the Chief Electoral Officer to take note of such incidents and initiate action against the concerned police official.
The KPC further urges that the authorities should ensure that an enabling atmosphere is created for the free and fair functioning of the media in Kashmir.
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