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KEG,RSF condemn attack on photojournalists; demand action against guilty 

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) has strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists who were covering the aftermath of an encounter in Shopian. At least four news photographers were hit by the pellets and hospitalised.

A battery of journalists was covering the protests near Shirmal on the Srinagar-Shopian highway when they were asked by the police to pass. When they were moving, the cops fired pellets and it hit four of them: Waseem Andrabi, Junaid Gulzar, Mir Burhan, and a reporter Nisar ul Haq. The injured were driven by their colleagues to the nearby hospital for the first-aid, KEG statement said.

It said the journalists were in Shopian to cover the aftermath of an overnight encounter in which three militants were killed.

“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media-persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” KEG statement said.

It said every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing Fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” KEG regretted.

KEG demands a quick and time-bound investigation into the incident and an action against the personnel found guilty. The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in twenty-first century, the statement said.

Menwhile  reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, on Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’

“Unacceptable violence by #India's security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.

“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.

Various Kashmir journalist associations also condemned the attack on photojournalists by the government forces during the gunfight.

In a statement, Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) said the photojournalists visited the encounter spot in Shopian to carry out their professional duties. “…but they were showered with pellets from a close range,” it said.

“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties,” the statement said.

The association also urged the Governor Satya Pal Malik and Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh to look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring personnel.

Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA) also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian.

“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets,” KVJA statement said.

Omar warns against indiscriminate use of force

Srinagar, Jan 22: Condemning the assault on journalists during a gunfight in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said the indiscriminate use of force will always be counterproductive.

Taking to Twitter, Omar termed the incident as “highly unfortunate”.

“Highly unfortunate reports about journalists injured, including some with pellet injuries, while covering clashes in South Kashmir. I condemn this incident. The indiscriminate use of force, often without any accountability, will always be counterproductive,” Omar tweeted.

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