Black Weeks For Press

Black weeks for press freedom in occupied Kashmir

Troops killed one photo journalist, attacked 32

Paris, August 04 (KMS): France based, Reporters Without Borders has voiced full solidarity with journalists in occupied Kashmir, who have undergone one of the worst periods in decades during pro-liberation and anti-India protests in August.

A 35-year old cameraman, Javed Ahmad Mir, was killed on August 12 by Indian troops at Bagh-e-Mehtab in Srinagar and more than 30 journalists were beaten by troops, local TV stations censored and newspapers unable to publish normally because of an indefinite curfew of nine days.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said “The government in New Delhi cannot continue to ignore the fact that the press in Kashmir has been subjected to a state of exception that violates the Indian constitution,” It said. “We call on India to react quickly to ensure that the violence stops, that the censorship is completely lifted and that the local media is given full guarantees. The police violence in which a cameraman was killed and at least 32 journalists were injured must also be investigated.”

Reporters Without Borders urged the puppet authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the death of local TV cameraman Javed Ahmad Mir, who was shot while covering a demonstration near Bagh-e-Mehtab in Srinagar.

The curfew was imposed on Sunday, 24th August and was lifted on 2nd September.

But the toll was very heavy. The inhabitants of Kashmir, especially those in the Srinagar city, were deprived of local and Indian dailies for a week, while local TV stations were forbidden to report news. Some cable TV operators stopped carrying Indian and international news channels in protest against the censorship. Many people also complained about disruption of mobile SMS services.

At least 32 journalists were beaten by Indian troops since the start of the demonstrations and at least 10 of them were hospitalised.  Personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were responsible for most of the police violence. It was CRPF personnel, who beat Asif Qureshi of Star News on 25 August, Muzamil Rashid of IBN 7 on August 22, Bilal Butt of Sahara Samay on August on Rambagh Srinagar, Manoj Kaul of ETV, at Zero Bridge on August 24, Mir Ehsan of Indian Express at Tehsil road Baramulla on August 25, and Showkat Ahmed, the Rising Kashmir daily newspaper’s system administrator, when he was on the streets with a pass on 31st August.

A Kashmiri group of journalist in a press statement said that there are strong grounds for suspecting that the puppet authorities made no attempt to prevent the violence against the press. “When the governor, N. N. Vohra, was informed about these attacks, he pleaded ignorance and, in presence of some members of press and the secretary of information, instructed the Director General of Police not to let such attacks continue,” the statement said. “However, to present just one instance, the attacks continued the next day, confirming our suspicion that the attacks are carried out by design.” After the hue and cry from the human rights groups, the puppet authorities in occupied Kashmir called on the mediamen to resume their duties and assured proper protection.

"The Indian government had directed authorities in Kashmir to gag the mediamen," wrote a local journalist, Javed Malik, in his write-up. The comment drew instant reaction from the authorities, which denied it and decided to issue special curfew passes to the media persons.