Why does the J and K police assault journalists repeatedly?

IN Media Freedom | 28/11/2011
And why does Chief Minister Omar Abdullah refrain from condemning this assault on the freedom of the press?
asks YAWAR KABLI in an open letter
All freedoms enshrined by the constitution of India are being either violated or thrown away by the Jammu and Kashmir police. One could substantiate the above remark that I have made with numerous examples. We were not the first pressmen thrashed by police while covering the stone hurling protests in the Kashmir. On Friday, last, without any rhyme or reason policemen along with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) thrashed us and snatched our costly cameras. They did not even hesitate to bundle us into the police vehicles while taking us to the police station Khanyar.
We were mercilessly beaten and the snatched equipment is still lying with the police. Our several requests to the concerned State House Officer (SHO) to return our equipments has thus far fallen to deaf ears. The police is categorically refusing having any knowledge of snatched cameras.
Some years back, a photojournalist was roughed up by the police in New Delhi. For about a week the video clipping of snatching and breaking of camera was being shown by the media. How inappropriate it is for the Indian media to ignore their brethren working in the strife torn Valley. Three days have passed since the day of assault, the solidarity from the press working in Indian mainland is yet to come. Last time a Mexican photojournalist, who also witnessed the brutality of the police and CRPF in Kashmir said in First Information Report that more than Rupees 50,000 were snatched by cops while he was being assaulted.
Photojournalists coming from different countries to Kashmir for work have faced wrath at the hands of forces. In a way, it is not good for the overall image of the police which is already struggling to create a good image in the public. When journalists tell the gory incidents of beating and looting to the people outside, I am sure it doesn’t help.
Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, perhaps is in a hibernation mode. I cannot recall a single occasion when Omar would have condemned any incident or any attack on the press.
I along with my colleagues as a responsible member of the press fraternity request to the Chairman of the PCI to look in to the matter and use his good offices to prevail upon the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police for refraining from such condemnable acts on the press.
Yes, photojournalists are not writers, but their pictures convey their message to the all and sundry how illiterate the reader may be. Please consider the technical staff viz photographers Videographers as an essential part of your body who reach the spot minutes after the incident happen in the world.
(This piece first appeared in Kashmir Dispatch, November 28, 2011)
(Yawar Kabli is a KD staffer and a freelancer. He was among the four journalists assaulted by the police and CRPF in Srinagar's Old City on Friday, last.)
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