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Assault undermines claim of restored press rights in Kashmir, says IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 12, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked to learn of an attack on Riyaz Masroor, a senior journalist, near his home in the Alucha Bagh neighbourhood of Srinagar, capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to information accessed by the IFJ, Masroor was attacked by police on his way to collect a curfew pass from the State Government's Information Department, after receiving a telephone call asking for his presence. Masroor's press pass had been cancelled as part of the security clampdown that began on July 7, following month-long civil disturbances in the valley.

IFJ sources report that the journalist was leaving home on the morning of July 9 to visit the department's office when he was stopped at a police checkpoint on the main thoroughfare near his home.

Personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir police reportedly did not ask him why he was stepping out during the curfew, nor did they wait for an explanation.

Masroor was attacked with heavy batons and forced to return home. He suffered injuries to his hip and right wrist.

The attack comes soon after a traumatic day for the Kashmir media on July 6, when 12 media workers, mostly still and video camera operators working for local, national and international media, suffered serious injuries at the hands of security personnel seeking to enforce a total curfew.

"The IFJ is shocked and concerned that Riyaz Masroor was deemed to be in violation of the Kashmir curfew when he was simply responding to a summons to pick up a fresh curfew pass from the Information Department of the State Government," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The IFJ is not convinced by the official claim by Kashmir's authorities that all official permissions for journalists to pass through curfew-bound areas have been restored."

The IFJ has serious worries over the continuing clampdown on the media in the Kashmir region, now into its fifth day, and notes that the Delhi Union of Journalists, the Editors' Guild of India and the Press Club of India have reacted with strong condemnation of the attacks on the press.

"We hope that these expressions of solidarity with the journalists of Kashmir and outrage at troubles in the region will convince the authorities in India that they must reverse their approach and lift the restrictions on the press operating in Kashmir," Park said.
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