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Police prevent journalists from attending press conference in Kashmir

Supporters of Kashmir's pro-India National Conference party attend a rally in Srinagar, 20 March 2017
Supporters of Kashmir's pro-India National Conference party attend a rally in Srinagar, 20 March 2017

AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 17 March 2017.

Police in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir should allow journalists to work without harassment, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today, and should take disciplinary action against officers filmed attacking journalists yesterday.

Tauseef Mustafa, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, Shuaib Masoodi, a photographer for the Indian Express, and Umar Sheikh, a videographer for the English-language news channel Times Now, were trying to cover a meeting of separatist leaders in Srinagar, the largest city in the state, when police assaulted them, according to media reports. One officer grabbed Mustafa, the AFP photographer, by the throat, video and photographs of the attack show. According to a report in the English-language daily newspaper Greater Kashmir, the officer also threatened to kill the photographer.

"Police in Jammu and Kashmir should protect journalists doing their jobs, not grab them by the throat," CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said. "The officers responsible for this attack should be disciplined to send a clear message that the police respect the freedom of the press."

The local director general of the police, GH Bhatt, told CPJ that police launched an investigation into the incident based on media reports, and that anyone found guilty would be disciplined. He said that police asked the journalists to lodge a formal complaint, but that they have not yet done so.

Local professional and political organizations condemned the attack on the press, according to statements published in news reports.

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