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Shocking police intimidation of journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 13 July 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by reports that two journalists based in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, have been threatened with arrest for their reporting on what is believed to be a recent case of murder.

According to the Kashmir Press Association, which represents many editors working out of the state, and the Srinagar Journalists' Association, senior police officials called the two journalists to register their displeasure over their reports, which were based on interviews with the family of a youth believed to have been murdered.

Fayaz Bukhari, Srinagar correspondent for NDTV, a news channel broadcasting in English and Hindi across India, and Rasheed Rahi, a reporter with local news agency CNS, were reportedly told that they would be arrested for reports suggesting that the youth's death, which has led to large-scale civil disturbances in the state, may have been a case of custodial killing by the state police.

"The IFJ reminds the state police that reporting all sides of any matter is part of the professional commitment of journalists," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"There can be no justification in any event for threatening journalists with arrest under the special security laws applicable in Kashmir."

The IFJ believes that an information vacuum is the greatest hazard in politically delicate situations and that the risks of unfounded rumours gaining ground would be minimised if the authorities were to follow a policy of complete transparency in cases involving the suspected violation of human rights.

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