Srinagar: On Tuesday afternoon, I and a couple of fellow journalists drove to Srinagar’s Islamia College of Science and Commerce where we had heard a student protest was underway.
We wanted to speak to the students to find out what the protests were about, whether they were related to the anti-citizenship law demonstrations that were happening across campuses in the country.
Once we got there, we saw personnel of the J&K police and CRPF standing guard outside the locked gate of the college. Stones were being thrown from inside the college towards the main road where we were standing along with the security forces.
Sensing that we won’t be able to interact with the students, we decided to return. On our way back, I saw Rashid Khan, Station House Officer of Srinagar’s Rainawari area, grab a couple of youth who were walking on the main road — at some distance from the protest site.
I, along with other journalists, began clicking pictures and videos of the incident. On seeing this, Khan first threatened me and demanded that I stop using my phone. When I protested, he snatched the phone.
Khan and Superintendent of Police Sajad Shah, who had been watching the commotion, then questioned my press credentials and asked why I wasn’t wearing a press badge. I said my badge was in my bag and showed them my card. I then demanded that the two return my phone, to which SP Shah said I should visit his office to collect it.
When I protested the behaviour of the two officers, SP Shah began to abuse me. “Do whatever you want,” he said, following it up with a string of abuses.
This was when the policemen on duty started hitting me. It was only after the intervention of some journalists that I was let go. At some distance, I saw another colleague being thrashed by Khan.
After the thrashing I went to talk to SP Shah, who claimed that I had threatened him. But that’s not right, the entire incident took place in the presence of at least 30-40 journalists and photographers and many have recorded the sequence of events.
The two officers continued to berate me and my colleagues and refused to give my phone.
Tuesday’s incident comes a week after I was removed from the police WhatsApp group and mailing list. I have, during the unrest in Kashmir, also received calls from some senior police officers issuing veiled threats.
ThePrint condemns assault, demands urgent inquiry
ThePrint strongly condemns the assault by the Jammu & Kashmir Police on its Special Correspondent in Srinagar, Azaan Javaid, Tuesday. Javaid was on the ground reporting in Srinagar when his phone — which he was using to record visuals of police detaining some youths — was snatched. He was abused and beaten up by policemen. ThePrint demands Javaid’s phone be returned immediately and an urgent inquiry conducted into the incident and the erring policemen punished. For now, ThePrint is glad Javaid is safe.