Police in the disputed Kashmir region roughed up two journalists who were covering a student protest Tuesday at a college in the capital.
Azaan Javaid, who works for online Indian publication The Print, said he and fellow journalists Anees Zargar and Hakeem Irfan were standing outside the main gate of Islamia College in Srinagar, where students were protesting against the controversial citizenship law recently passed by the Indian government.
“The gates of the college had been closed and students were shouting slogans and throwing stones from inside. Nothing was happening outside the college,” Javaid said.
“We were about to leave when we spotted the police grabbing a couple of students by their collars and we started filming this with our mobile phones.”
Javaid said two police officers came up to them and one of them snatched his phone. After informing them that they were members of the press, he said they were told “it is not written on your foreheads that you are journalists”.
“When I told them to return my phone, the officer told me ‘come to the police station; we will talk there’. I said I will do what I have to do, but give me my phone. The officer said ‘go and do whatever you want to do’. At this point, the officer abused me, and then his men started hitting and pushing me,” he said.
Zargar, who works for Newsclick, said one of the officers, Raashid Khan, came up to him and said: “I remember you. You are the one who wrote that story against me.”
“And when they started hitting Azaan, Khan slapped me,” said Zargar, who has a bruise near his left eye.
The police officers also approached Irfan, who works for India’s leading economic newspaper The Economic Times, and tried to snatch his phone.
Police Superintendent Sajad Shah told Anadolu Agency that the journalists were not displaying their credentials.
“When they were asked about it, they began arguing. I asked Azaan to come to my office to sort things out, but he didn’t come. We had no objection to their filming of the events. There were several journalists there. Why were these singled out?” he said.
Outraged, several journalists were planning a protest in the evening against the treatment of their colleagues.