Kashmir: Photojournalist Kamran Yousuf Beaten Up By Police While on Duty


Yousuf, a well-known journalist in Kashmir, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2017 on charges of stone-pelting and indulging in “subversive activities”.

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Kashmir-based popular photojournalist Kamran Yousuf who works with NewsClick, a Delhi-based news portal, was thrashed by the police on Tuesday morning while he was on his professional duty covering the aftermath of Monday’s a gunfight between militants and security forces in Marwal village in Pulwama district of Kashmir valley.

Two other journalists, Faisal Bashir and Reshi Irshad, were also beaten up by the uniformed men at the gunfight site.

Yousuf told Clarion India that he was clicking photos with his camera when policemen came running and pounced on him.  “They beat me with batons, kicked and smacked me multiple times,” he said over the phone shortly after the incident.

Aakash Hassan, a freelance journalist in Srinagar who was the first to tweet about the attack on Kamran, said they took Kamran to a hospital in Srinagar for medical examination as he was not able to walk properly. “His X-ray and USG scans have been done and we are waiting for a report.”

The incident happened during a routine search operation by security forces in the village. A gunfight had raged between the Army and militants on Monday evening.

Hassan also tweeted a slow-motion video which showed cops aiming their batons at a person wearing civilian clothes.

Clarion India approached Superintendent of Police Pulwama Ashish Kumar Mishra for his comments. He denied that the police beat up Yousuf, and added, “he (Yousuf) is habitual of making false allegations”.

However, NewsClick Kashmir bureau head Anees Zargar said he saluted the bravery of his colleague. Kashmir Press Club president Shuja ul Haq said the club office-bearers would look into the matter and then issue an official statement.

Yousuf, a well-known journalist in Kashmir, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2017 on charges of stone-pelting and indulging in “subversive activities”.

The NIA had said that he was covering only stone-pelting related incidents, and had raised questions on his journalism.

However, he was released from Tihar jail after six months after a court granted him bail. The court said that mere his presence at the site of clashes was not enough to implicate him. In February, Yousuf was picked up by the police in the night from his home on the allegations that he had written a provocative post on social media. It later turned out that the police had mistaken him with a social media user Kamran Manzoor, and he was let off the same night.

Journalists in Kashmir have been frequently complaining of harassment at the hands of the police. There have been numerous incidents of photojournalists being beaten up by the police while they are on duty covering incidents of stone-pelting or gunfights.

Indeed, journalists in Kashmir have been working on their outdoor assignments under tremendous pressures of reporting from a conflict zone. Since 5 August 2019, when the Government of India revoked the special status granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, cutting off communication lines, press reporters have withstood successive lockdowns as well as attempts to suppress them.

Only last fortnight, a Srinagar-based photojournalist, Idrees Abbas, had alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir Police beat up his father and vandalised his house in Srinagar’s Alamgari Bazar, while chasing away Shia Muslim mourners in the area.

Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.


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