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India urged to ensure security of journalists in IOK

Srinagar, January 25, 2019 (PPI-OT): A regional human rights organization, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), has expressed its deep concern over the recent assault on photojournalists in occupied Kashmir’s Shopian area, which resulted in four journalists being injured.

The photojournalists were injured after the Indian forces fired pellets on them when they were discharging their professional duties in Shirmal area of Shopian on Tuesday (22 January 2019). The journos were in the area to cover protests that had ensued after three youth were killed by the troops there. Among those injured were photojournalists, Waseem Andrabi, Nisar ul Haq, Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan. Waseem Andrabi was left with six pellet wounds to his face and neck and Nasir ul Haq’s eye was injured.

“FORUM-ASIA strongly condemns all attacks on photojournalists, who are often first-hand witnesses to conflicts and human rights violations, which are a clear violation of freedom of expression and press freedom”, the forum said in a statement issued on Thursday as per a report by Srinagar-based English daily Kashmir Observer.

It said journalists and media personnel are routinely targeted in occupied Kashmir and added that in 2018, several journalists were targeted and were booked under draconian security legislation, which violates international standards for human rights to which the Government of India has committed.

A photojournalist, Kamran Yousuf, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and detained under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in September 2017, and was only released on bail in March 2018, without any charges filed against him to date, the statement said, adding in July 2018, another journalist, Auqib Javid, associated with the daily Kashmir Observer, was summoned and interrogated by the NIA for his interview with Aasiya Andrabi, the chief of Dukhtaran-e-Millat. In September 2018, Aasif Sultan, the Assistant Editor at the Kashmir Narrator, was arrested under the UAPA on charges of ‘publication of content glamorizing terrorism in the state’, ‘harbouring terrorists’ and for possession of ‘incriminating material’ on his laptop, owever, none of these charges were substantiated and Aasif continues in detention to date without any formal charges filed against him, the statement reads.

It said that several foreign journalists were restricted to report and travel to Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 and added that in July 2018, the Government of India also issued an ‘advisory’ to foreign correspondents working in India, reminding them that they need prior permission before travelling to certain ‘protected’ areas, including Jammu and Kashmir.

“The lack of access for journalists to Jammu and Kashmir to report on the prevailing human rights situation is a worrying trend. It should be discontinued, and access should be granted”.

“FORUM-ASIA believes the assaults on journalists are an attempt to stifle freedom of expression and press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir. It urges the IOK administration and the Indian government to protect journalists in this highly militarised conflict-ridden territory, and ensure prompt actions against any kind of assault, intimidation, harassment and detention of journalists”. For this, the forum has suggested following actions:

Immediately conduct a credible investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Take pro-active action to protect journalists from the growing threats they face.

Enact enabling laws and policies to protect journalists and human rights defenders, and

Ensure freedom of opinion and expression throughout India and in conflict-ridden Jammu and Kashmir.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Email: info@kmsnews.org
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736

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