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IFJ Concerned by Attack on Journalists in Kashmir

August 23, 2011

IFJ Concerned by Attack on Journalists in Kashmir

The International Federation of Journalists expresses serious concern after two photojournalists were attacked by security forces in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 19. Both the journalists suffered serious injuries and a reporter seeking information from the police on what transpired was in turn threatened with dire consequences by senior officers.

Mexican photojournalist Narciso Contreras, working with the U.S.-based press agency Zuma, was detained in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar city, summer capital of the state on August 19. He was allegedly chased from the scene of a confrontation between political demonstrators and security forces and roughly taken away from a private home where he had sought shelter. He was taken to a police station and brutally beaten and reportedly threatened not to publish the photographs he had taken. He has also reported losing a large sum of money in the process of his arrest and torture.

Showkat Shafi, a local freelance photographer who often contributes to international news agencies was detained while covering the same demonstration. He too was taken to the local police station and beaten.

Both journalists were released after being held for an estimated five hours. They have since been admitted to a hospital in Srinagar city and are undergoing treatment for severe injuries.

Later that day, Wasim Khalid, a reporter with one of the largest-selling English-language newspapers in the state, Greater Kashmir, was threatened with “unimaginable” consequences if he sought to pursue the story of the photojournalists’ arrest and beating.

“We join our colleagues in Kashmir in calling upon local authorities to investigate this latest atrocity on the practice of journalism in the state,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The testimony of the two journalists who were attacked has to be taken and action initiated immediately against the policemen responsible.

“The IFJ has expressed concerns several times in the last three years over the hazards that journalists face in Kashmir. A clear signal has to be given from the highest level of the political leadership in the state, that this manner of attack on journalists performing their duties will not be tolerated.”

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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