Srinagar: Reiterating the dangers faced by journalists in Kashmir, the Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of media professionals in the region, on Monday, February 17, condemned the J&K police’s nocturnal raid on journalist Kamran Yousuf.
Kamran, a resident of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district and is working with NewsClick, was picked up from his home by a police party led by Deputy Superintendent of Police and SHO Pulwama who entered his home around 11 PM.
The nocturnal raid against Kamran comes only a week after the press body highlighted many cases of physical attacks, harassment and summons by the J&K Police against media professionals in the Valley, especially since August 5, as the Centre imposed a massive clampdown in the region in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent bifurcation of the state into union territories, a move vehemently opposed by Kashmiris.
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“I saw policemen surrounding our premises. The police official asked me to come along and snatched my phones,” Kamran said. He was taken in a police vehicle to the office of DSP and questioned about some Twitter account user called Kamran Manzoor’.
“They checked my phones and searched everything on it. They asked me about some Kamran Manzoor and showed me his Twitter account. The police officer said that they had suspicion that I am running the account,” Kamran said.
After failing to find anything that they were looking for, the police official called some officer on phone and let him go at around 1 AM. “My distraught family members were waiting outside and took me home,” he added.
The press club’s spokesperson said it has taken a “serious note of the continuous harassment of journalists in the Valley”, adding that the “police’s nocturnal raid at the house of a journalist has once again highlighted the dangers faced by journalists in the Valley”.
“Physical attacks, threats and summons to journalists are being employed by security agencies to intimidate journalists. In fact, the summons and harassment to (sic) journalists to Police’s counter-insurgency centre (Cargo) in Srinagar has become a routine exercise. The harassment and questioning of journalists in Kashmir on flimsy grounds by the J&K Police for their work is in fact a damning verdict on the appalling condition in which media is operating,” the KPC noted.
In its statement, the body detailed major cases of police summons, harassments and intimidation since August 5 and urged the government to stop the trend of “summons and attacks.”
Rights bodies including Amnesty have also pointed out the horrifying conditions under which media in Kashmir are working stating the clampdown is “effectively silencing the truth”.
“The intimidation and coercive attacks from security forces faced by journalists in Kashmir severely affects their independence in reporting and verifying the events unfolding in Kashmir since 5 August 2019,” an Amnesty report on post-August situation had pointed out.