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Cops target Valley journalists

Journalists have called a protest on Wednesday against the assault

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 18.12.19, 2:24 AM
  • Updated 18.12.19, 2:24 AM
  • a min read
  •  
A police officer detains a Kashmiri student during a protest outside a college in Srinagar on Tuesday. Some students pelted stones at the cops, prompting the police to lob smoke shells at the protesters. (AP)

Policemen targeted journalists in Srinagar on Tuesday, slapping and pushing one repeatedly, as protests against the amended citizenship law broke out in the Valley for the first time.

A purported video that has gone viral shows a policeman thrashing Azaan Javaid, a journalist with the news website The Print, during a protest outside Srinagar’s Islamia College of Science and Commerce, triggering outrage and calls for action against the errant cops.

A senior police officer who was present at the spot said the journalists should lodge a complaint with the police if they had any grievances.

Earlier, around noon, protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act had broken out at the college in the first such demonstrations in the city against the amended law.

Some students pelted stones at the cops, prompting the police to lob smoke shells at the protesters.

Javaid and Anees Zargar, from Newsclick, were among journalists covering the protests outside the college, located in a volatile locality of the old city, when they were targeted.

The purported video shows gun-wielding policemen slapping and shoving Javaid repeatedly as his colleagues watched helpless.

Javaid later said a police officer had snatched his mobile and the cops got furious when he asked the officer to return the phone. “They showed no mercy and all this happened in front of senior police officers,” he told The Telegraph.

The policemen were reportedly part of the escort of Srinagar North SP Sajjad Shah, who was present at the spot.

Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief, The Print, said Javaid was on the ground reporting and was abused and beaten up by the policemen.

“The Print demands Javaid’s phone be returned immediately and an urgent enquiry conducted in the incident and the erring policemen punished. For now, ThePrint is glad Javaid is safe,” Gupta wrote on the newspaper’s website.

Journalists have called a protest on Wednesday against the assault.

Shah said the journalists should lodge a police complaint if they had any grievances.

When reporters asked him at the Srinagar Media Facilitation Centre how the assault could take place in his presence, he said they could approach his superiors against him.

Journalists have been frequently targeted or threatened during the four-month-long turmoil in the Valley that followed the Centre’s move to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Several journalists had been thrashed earlier too.

The police have also sometimes summoned journalists to their offices, seen as a tactic to coerce them into submission.