Several people, including three photojournalists and a reporter, were injured when security forces fired pellets and tear smoke shells to disperse protesters, who were protesting against the killing of three local militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.
Reports said the four journalists were hit by pellets fired by the forces near the site of the gunfight in Shirmal area of Shopian. One of the injured journalists identified as Waseem Andrabi of Hindustan Time was reportedly hit by pellets in his face.
Pellet guns have partially or fully blinded hundreds of people in Kashmir in the last few years.
Intense clashes erupted in the area soon after the gunfight broke out in the village. An eye witness said the forces fired tear gas and pellets to disperse the youth who were pelting them with stones. Earlier, three local militants, including a brother of an IPS officer, were killed in the gunfight.
Condemning the assault on journalists, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said the ‘indiscriminate use of force will always be counterproductive.’
“Highly unfortunate reports about journalists injured, including some with pellet injuries, while covering clashes in South Kashmir. I condemn this incident. The indiscriminate use of force, often without any accountability, will always be counterproductive,” Omar tweeted.
Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), an international body for journalists, has called upon the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’
“Unacceptable violence by #India's security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.
Various Kashmiri journalist associations also condemned the attack. Kashmir National Television Journalist Association (KNTJA) while condemning the attack on the photojournalists asked governor Satya Pal Malik and Director General of Police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order an enquiry into the incident.