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Kashmiri Journalists Continue to Work on Razor’s Edge

Written by KashmirUnheard

Video By: Rayees Ahmad | Article By: Nusrat Ali

Shopian: Five photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering a gun battle between Militants and Indian forces in the Shopian region on 22nd January 2019. The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, Mir Burhan of Asia News Network, Junaid Gulzar and Kaiser both of them are working with local publications. 

The pellets hit the left eye of Nisar ul Haq. His left eye has lost 60 percent vision after having been hit by 10-15 pellets. Five to six pellets had hit his face while nine pellets hit his left hand. Asia News Network’s Mir Burhan was hit by 9-12 pellets on his face, legs and left hand. “I am still in shock and don’t know what our fault was. The only relief I have is that my both eyes are safe,” says Mir Burhan.

In the last 12 years, 1000 journalists have died in different parts of the world, killed while doing their job, of collecting and disseminating information to their readers and viewers.

When it comes to violence against journalists in the J&K. Since 1990, 19 journalists have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir, including Shujat Bukhari. Their deaths have been at the hands of militants, paramilitary forces, state police, and the Indian armed forces and at times at the hands of ‘unknown gunmen’. Under the threat perception of the state, one must also not forget how much self censorship a journalist in a conflict-afflicted state like Jammu and Kashmir has to practice.

The intimidation, harassment and detention of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, by the state, threatens basic freedom of expression norms.
The recent arrest of Kashmir-based journalist Aasif Sultan and the subsequent suspension of the Twitter handle of his employer, Showkat Motta of ‘Kashmir Narrator’, raises serious concerns about the deteriorating state of press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir.

The use of a draconian law like the UAPA against media persons is an attempt to stifle journalism in Jammu and Kashmir. The law is often used to arbitrarily detain people who are peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. People are held in detention without charge for up to six months. A few months ago, one of the Community Correspondents, working with our publication was called by the army to their camp and ruthlessly beaten and his camera was damaged. According to him, he was told not to report on issues directly or indirectly raising questions on the working of Indian forces in Kashmir.

“The government should either give us the liberty to work without fear or shut down the media fraternity in the Valley” – Nisar ul Haq

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