By Ubair Ul Hameed
The Journalist bodies of Kashmir condemned the police raid against four journalists – Hilal Mir, Shah Abbas, Azhar Qadri and Showkat Motta– on Thursday.
The raids by armed forces carried out at the respective residences of these journalists is a stark reflection of how authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are targeting journalists, the various journalist bodies including Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK), Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA), Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA), Kashmir Press Club (KPC), Kashmir Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA), Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA), said in a joint statement.
According to the statement, Shah, Mir and Motta have been covering Kashmir for over two decades while Qadri has been covering the region for over a decade. All of them have worked with reputed media organisations including Delhi-based and international organisations and continue to do so.
The journalists bodies said that it was highly unfortunate to witness that the police authorities carried out these raids at their residences on Wednesday.
“According to the eye-witnesses, the statement said, the forces laid, what appeared to them, a massive cordon in the localities of their respective residences Wednesday morning.
According to family members, mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets of the journalists and their family members have been seized,” the statement read.
According to the journalist bodies, Journalists in Kashmir are working amidst immense pressure, especially since the last three decades. Many of our colleagues have lost their lives or sustained injuries while discharging their professional duties.
For the last few years, the pressure on the journalists in Kashmir has mounted to unprecedented levels with dozens of incidents of attacks, harassment and intimidation by authorities that our colleagues have reported, the statement said.
The journalist bodies said that several journalists, especially for the last two years, were summoned, questioned and even booked under controversial laws while many were even asked to reveal their sources.
The statement said that the cases of harassment against Kashmiri journalists are growing with each passing day and no words are enough to indicate the levels of strain the media is facing. The assault on freedom of press in Kashmir continues and it appears condemnations made in each case by media groups have fallen on deaf ears in absence of any respite, the statement concludes.