The Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday beat up journalists in Srinagar’s central Jehangir Chowk, meters away from the headquarters of the administration, and prevented them from documenting the annual Muharram processions carried out by Shia Muslims.
At least six journalists, mostly photojournalists, who spoke to The Kashmir Walla accused that the police officials first abused them and then after objecting to it they were all beaten up. The videos shot by several journalists show the police official leading the assault on the journalists as other policemen carrying sticks and assault rifles also join the assault.
As seen in the several videos and photographs, the policemen led by Station House Officer (SHO) Shergarhi police station can be seen charging at journalists with a baton.
Bhat Burhan, a photojournalist based in Srinagar who works on freelance assignments for international news organisations, told The Kashmir Walla that the nearly two dozen journalists were waiting for a procession to reach Jehangir Chowk.
“When the procession reached Jehangir Chowk, some mourners were detained and that was when we were beaten up brutally,” he said.
Burhan, who said he was also beaten up by the policemen, said the police officer “abused my mother” to which he objected. “He abused my mother, I told him not to do it. He said you are a facebook journalist and asked his men to beat me,” he said.
He said the camera of at least one photojournalist was broken by cops.
Another photojournalist, Sajad Hameed said that the SHO Shergarhi police station also abused Waseem Andrabi, a photojournalist with New Delhi-based Hindustan Times newspaper, and “we told him not to. He didn’t listen to us but started beating the journalists.”
“He (police officer) told the police to beat us all and they beat 10-15 journalists. I was beaten thrice and my camera broke too,” Hameed told The Kashmir Walla.
Andrabi told a local news agency – Kashmir News Observer (KNO) – that the policemen “from Shergarhi Police Station led by SHO Aftab Ahmad, beat them to the pulp for no reasons”. “We were even told that (an) FIR will be registered against us,” Andrabi said.
Imran Ali, an independent multimedia journalist said he was also assaulted in a separate incident at Munawarabad in Srinagar when he was clicking pictures of Shia mourners being detained by the police.
“The policemen were detaining the people (who were part of a procession) and I was clicking the pictures, but then the policemen came to me and asked me not to click the pictures. I was dragged by the policemen but I somehow escaped,” he said.
Ali, who talked to The Kashmir Walla immediately after the incident, said he had taken refuge in the neighbourhood as the policemen were still looking for him. “I am hiding somewhere in the area and they are still looking for me,” he said.
The Kashmir Walla reached out to Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Sandeep Chaudhary, over calls and text messages but he didn’t respond. As soon as he responds, the story will be updated.