Recent attacks on journalists covering protests in Srinagar, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir

Thursday, December 1, 2011

His Excellency Shashishekhar M. Gavai, High Commissioner for India to Canada
High Commission of India
10 Springfield Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1M 1C9

Dear High Commissioner,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is deeply concerned about recent reports of several attacks on journalists who were covering protests in Srinagar, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday, November 25, 2011. According to reports, four journalists were assaulted, and one of them was also briefly detained by the Central Reserve Police Force. The four journalists were covering demonstrations in Srinagar’s Old City that started shortly after Friday prayers. Among the assaulted journalists were Umar Mehraj (Associated Press), Showkat Shafi (Al Jazeera English), and Yawar Kabli (Getty Images and Kashmir Dispatch). The fourth, Shahid Tantray (of the Hindi-language daily Dainik Bhaskar), was detained after suffering injuries.

This is not the first time that journalist Showkat Shafi has been attacked by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. On August 23, 2011, Shafi and Mexican photojournalist Narciso Contrerars were covering demonstrations in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar when they were arrested and taken to a local police station. At the police station, where they were detained for approximately five hours, they were both brutally beaten and repeatedly threatened for the photographs they had taken. Another journalist, Wasim Khalid of the English-language newspaper Greater Kashmir, was seeking more information on these attacks when he was threatened with “unimaginable” consequences if he reported on these incidents.

These cases highlight an increasingly hostile environment for journalists in the Kashmir region. Even more disturbing is that these attacks were carried out by government security forces. CJFE calls on the Kashmiri authorities to investigate these attacks and the personnel involved in order to ensure a safer environment for journalists where they can work without the threat of assault or detainment.

We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

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