Handwara Killings: Media Marshalled

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

SRINAGAR

Funeral of Raja Begum 1
Funeral of slain Raja Begum. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Following killing of four civilians by forces in North Kashmir’s Handwara and Drugmulla areas, intense clashes broke out, sending media men from Srinagar rushing to the spot. On way to Handwara town media men faced batons, humiliation and angry forces.

“We were capturing the events on camera when police swooped down on us and beat up us ruthlessly,” says Abu Bakr, a young reporter. “We tried to hide inside a house but police chased us and ransacked the house, even beating up inmates.”

At 6:30 am, Kashmir Life’s photographer Bilal Bahadur, who drove towards Langate with a group of fellow photographers from Srinagar, had to change route after every kilometre to avoid angry forces. “After reaching Handwara chowk, we took left towards Langate. But large deployment of forces stopped our car and made us to turn back.”

Bahadur and his colleagues then used alternative routes, mostly passing though check posts manned by army, where they were subjected to checking. “We finally reached Handwara at 9 am.”

In late afternoon, Asim Shah, Sopore Correspondent working with Daily Kashmir Reader, was beaten by men in uniform.

Nimaz-e-Jinazah of slain Raja Begum (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)
Nimaz-e-Jinazah of slain Raja Begum (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

He sustained injuries and has been administered stitches in one of his legs. “They (police) didn’t allow media to enter Langate,” Asim told Kashmir Life over phone while he was on his way home from hospital.

Giving details as how authorities clamped down on media in North Kashmir’s Langate area, he said, “we were chased by police and we took refuge in a residential house. Meanwhile, when cops succeeded in chasing away stone-pelters, they broke down the gate of the house where we were taking refuge.”

“They entered the house and started beating us,” Asim said. “We got ourselves released from the clutches of cops and ran away from the spot,” he added, “It was a chase of around one kilometre that saved us from police wrath.”

Besides Asim, Adnan Dar of Current News Service; Peerzada Waseem of Daily Roshni, and Eeshan Peer of The Varmul Post were beaten too, a scribe from Baramulla said.

“After we crossed a bridge (in a Langate village), we came across stone pelters who challenged the cops and saved us,” said Asim. “I don’t know what happened after that.”

A colleague who accompanied Asim said, “He fell unconscious and we rushed him to the hospital. Cops didn’t allow us to perform our professional duties.”

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