In a horrific attack, four photojournalists were injured by pellet bullets in Shopian, Kashmir, on Jan 22, 2019. The journalists had gone to Shirmal in Shopian to cover an encounter between security forces and militants and, by the looks of the injuries- on their face, neck and eyes – were clearly targeted by the security forces! This is a huge violation of their right to report and is an attack on their freedom of expression.
As it is, there is considerable criticism on the use of pellet guns, ironically characterised as ‘non-lethal- weapons but have left scores maimed and blinded. The journalists have asserted that they were peacefully doing their duty of covering the encounter when they became the target of the attack.
The pictures of the journalists immediately went viral on social media:
Meanwhile, the Kashmir Journalists Association issued this statement:
KJA condemns murderous attack on photojournalists in Shopian
Kashmir journalists association (KJA) condemns the murderous attack on photojournalists by security forces today in Shirmal area of Shopian.
A statement issued by the association here, said that journalists in Kashmir are being targeted on a routine basis now and the absence of accountability is leading to increased attacks on scribes performing their duty.
Four photojournalists that include Waseem Andrabi, Junaid Gulzar, Mir Burhan, and Nisar ul Haq who had gone to south Kashmir’s Shopian to cover an encounter between the forces and militants, were shot from a close range by pellet shotguns with dozens of metal-ball pellets receiving injuries on face and neck.
We believe that such tactics employed by the state forces are aimed at muzzling the voice of common people.
We deem these oft-repeated attacks as an attack on the freedom of press.
Rather than stifling our voice, such attacks strengthen our resolve and commitment to work with more dedication and determination to highlight the issues faced by the common people.