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October 19, 2018 |

Attacking journalists

Thrashing of journalists who were covering Fateh Kadal gunfight on Wednesday in which two militants, a civilian and a cop were killed has drawn flak and been condemned by media and other professional bodies, various political parties and Hurriyat leaders. Partially caught on tape, some forces personnel could be seen thrashing journalists near the encounter site. On the same day, police in an advisory issued later, urged people to stay away from the gunfight sight. Preventing journalists from reporting or covering an incident on the pretext of security may exempt the conduct of government forces but attacking journalists who are also performing their duties warrants censure. It turns out to be an attack on the press, on the free speech, to muzzle the voice, irrespective of the fact that forces may have their own protocols and standard operating procedures to follow. In Kashmir, any untoward incident like the one that took place yesterday opens the box of troubles. It is no secret that journalists/reporters often hear two versions of an incidence of violence, and many times the claims are diametrically opposite. On-spot coverage of any incident is considered highly important in journalism as the first-hand account of events leaves no room for any disparity in different versions. What the government forces and authorities do not seem to understand is that no matter what a journalist will always rely on on-spot assessment of the situation than on the details that come through officials and spokespersons. If it is not the security that has been an issue, it could be argued that forces do not want journalists to have crucial information on their own. Although a top cop has assured that he will look into the matter, but it does not allay the growing fear among journalists who do ground reporting and often have to be near such sites. In the past also, there have been incidents wherein journalists were beaten by government forces and some of their equipments like cameras were damaged. There are at least three levels at which the matter needs to be taken up and resolved. First, the fraternity needs to take a strong stand against attacks on journalists irrespective of their affiliations. Second, attacks on journalists need to be highlighted as rights violation of those who end up as victims of state’s violence. Third, the attacks also need to be dealt by taking the legal course, where different journalist bodies can play key role.            

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October 19, 2018 |

Attacking journalists

              

Thrashing of journalists who were covering Fateh Kadal gunfight on Wednesday in which two militants, a civilian and a cop were killed has drawn flak and been condemned by media and other professional bodies, various political parties and Hurriyat leaders. Partially caught on tape, some forces personnel could be seen thrashing journalists near the encounter site. On the same day, police in an advisory issued later, urged people to stay away from the gunfight sight. Preventing journalists from reporting or covering an incident on the pretext of security may exempt the conduct of government forces but attacking journalists who are also performing their duties warrants censure. It turns out to be an attack on the press, on the free speech, to muzzle the voice, irrespective of the fact that forces may have their own protocols and standard operating procedures to follow. In Kashmir, any untoward incident like the one that took place yesterday opens the box of troubles. It is no secret that journalists/reporters often hear two versions of an incidence of violence, and many times the claims are diametrically opposite. On-spot coverage of any incident is considered highly important in journalism as the first-hand account of events leaves no room for any disparity in different versions. What the government forces and authorities do not seem to understand is that no matter what a journalist will always rely on on-spot assessment of the situation than on the details that come through officials and spokespersons. If it is not the security that has been an issue, it could be argued that forces do not want journalists to have crucial information on their own. Although a top cop has assured that he will look into the matter, but it does not allay the growing fear among journalists who do ground reporting and often have to be near such sites. In the past also, there have been incidents wherein journalists were beaten by government forces and some of their equipments like cameras were damaged. There are at least three levels at which the matter needs to be taken up and resolved. First, the fraternity needs to take a strong stand against attacks on journalists irrespective of their affiliations. Second, attacks on journalists need to be highlighted as rights violation of those who end up as victims of state’s violence. Third, the attacks also need to be dealt by taking the legal course, where different journalist bodies can play key role.            

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