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Action ordered against cop involved in thrashing journalists during Muharram procession

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh on Wednesday directed “immediate action” against a police officer involved in beating of journalists during a Muharram procession in the city, terming it “undesirable behaviour”.

The incident occurred on Tuesday when photojournalists were performing their duty of covering the procession in the city.

Police, unable to control the procession, targeted the photojournalists and charged at them with batons besides rouging them up physically. Several photographers including S Irfan of the PTI, Waseem Andrabi of the Hindustan Times and Sajjad Hamid of Free Press Journal, whose camera was also broken, were injured.

Taking cognisance of the incident, Singh directed Srinagar SSP Sandeep Chaudhary to take immediate action.

“J&K DGP Dilbag Singh took a serious view of the undesirable behaviour with some media men in Srinagar yesterday. SSP Srinagar directed to take immediate action against the erring police officer,” Jammu and Kashmir Police said on its official Twitter handle.

The police, after roughing up the journalists on Tuesday, also detained a few Shia mourners at Jehangir Chowk in the city as they tried to take out a procession to mark the eighth day of the 10-day Muharram mourning period.

The traditional Muharram procession used to pass through the areas of Abi Guzar, Lal Chowk and Dalgate areas, but has been banned since the eruption of militancy in 1990.

The pictures and videos of the incident were uploaded on social media as journalists protested the police action. Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) condemned the use of force by police and termed its action “unjustified and uncalled for”.

The Kashmir Press Club condemned the assault and demanded action against the policemen involved in the incident as well as sensitisation of the police force to ensure media freedom is respected.

Leaders cutting across political lines had on Tuesday denounced the incident, with National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah saying the police action was unfortunate and expressed hope that Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha will ensure such incidents are not repeated.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti also took to Twitter to highlight the issue saying, “Media is spending hours debating the human tragedy and unfolding crisis in Afghanistan but will they speak up for their own community in Kashmir who were beaten to pulp today by security forces for doing their job?”

The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) led by Sajad Gani Lone also condemned the police action and said, “Merciless beating of journalists is highly condemnable. We express serious concern over such repeated acts of use of force on the media fraternity without any accountability. Surprisingly, the upholders of the law are out to demolish the founding principles of law.”

Apni Party termed the thrashing of media persons as undemocratic.

Cop who thrashed journalists sent to police lines

A police officer who thrashed journalists during a Muharram procession here was shifted to the police lines on Wednesday after DGP Dilbagh Singh ordered “immediate action” against him for his “undesirable behaviour” a day earlier.

Shergarhi police station SHO Aftab Ahmad Bhat was among nine officers shifted from their places of posting by Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Srinagar Sandeep Chaudhary.

Bhat had allegedly beaten up photojournalists on Tuesday while they were covering the Muharram procession.

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