ISLAMABAD, May 3 (APP): Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is one of the most dangerous places in the world where people associated with the press and media are performing their professional duties in the most difficult circumstances.
According to a report compiled by Kashmir Media Service Editor, Raies Ahmed Mir, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, today, twenty journalists have been confirmed killed while performing their duties during the Kashmiris’ ongoing liberation struggle since 1989.
They include Shabbir Ahmed Dar, Mushtaq Ali, Muhammad Shaban Wakeel, a woman scribe Aasiya Jeelani, Ghulam Muhammad Lone, Ghulam Rasool Azad, Pervez Muhammad Sultan, Shujaat Bukhari, Ali Muhammad Mahajan, Syed Ghulam Nabi, Altaf Ahmed Fakhtoo, Saidan Shafi, Tariq Ahmed, Abdul Majid Butt, Javed Ahmed Mir, PN Handoo, Muhammad Shafi, Pradeeep Bhatia, Ashok Sodhi and Rayees Ahmad Butt.
The report pointed out that the journalists face manhandling, abductions, murder attempts, harassment, detentions, summoning to police stations and death threats by Indian Army, police and other agencies almost routinely in the territory.
It said that in the occupied territory, almost routinely, the journalists face manhandling, abductions, murder attempts and death threats by the Indian troops and all this has made their everyday work extremely difficult. It revealed that the Kashmiri journalists and many other scribes while performing their professional duties are roughed up, injured and detained by the troops on fake charges in the territory.
Indian police and sleuths of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested photojournalists, Kamran Yousuf, on 04 March 2017, Aqib Javeed on 02 July 2019, Khalid Gul on 06 December 2022, and Manan Gulzar Dar on 10 October 2021, for highlighting the brutalities of the Indian troops during the pro-freedom demonstrations in the territory.
They were later released after long detentions. Another journalist Qazi Shibli was booked under the black law, Public Safety Act (PSA) on 08 August 2019 and was released on 23 April 2020. Other journalists including Aasif Sultan, Fahad Shah, Sajjad Gul, Sartaj Altaf Butt and Irfan Meraaj are still facing illegal detentions in different jails in India and IIOJK.
The journalists were also not allowed by the authorities to perform their professional duties to write ground situations, news and reports on Indian forces’ cordon and search operations in the occupied territory.
A freelance French journalist, Comiti Paul Edward, was arrested by the Indian police when he was video-graphing the pellet victims in Srinagar city on International Human Rights Day (December 10) in 2017.
Comiti Paul Edward later in an interview said that the Kashmiris were facing the worst kind of military repression and human rights violations at the hands of Indian troops and India did not want these happenings in Kashmir to be known internationally. In his documentary released in 2018, Paul Comiti exposed the killing of Kashmiris by Indian forces.
Annie Gowan, Bureau chief of The Washington Post for India, was restricted by the authorities in a house in Srinagar on 31st July 2018 and was not permitted to move about in the territory for reporting.
The Pulitzer-winning Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo was stopped by immigration authorities on 02 July 2022 at New Delhi airport when she was going to attend a photography event in Paris and again on 17 October 2022 Sanna Irshad Mattoo was stopped by the Indian immigration authorities on New Delhi airport when she was to take a flight to New York to receive the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in a ceremony there.
The freelance journalist Aakash Hassan was barred by the Indian Immigration officials at New Delhi Airport from boarding a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 26 July 2022 without giving him any reason, the report said.
Although India has snatched every right including the right to freedom of the press in the occupied territory, Kashmiri journalists are determined to fight India’s assault on media freedom.
Local journalist bodies have called upon the international community to come to the rescue of the Kashmiri journalists. Victimization of journalists in Kashmir has increased manifold since August 05, 2019.
Amnesty International India in a statement said that the arrest of Kashmiri journalist Irfan Meraaj under black law was yet another instance of the long-drawn repression of human rights and the crackdown on media freedoms and civil society in the region of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Indian authorities should prioritize ending impunity for the human rights violations that human rights defenders and journalists have bravely documented and exposed, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, and ensure that human rights defenders and activists can work in a safe and enabling environment without any fear of reprisals,” Aakar Patel, chair of the board at Amnesty International India said.
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