Four photojournalists were injured after the security forces allegedly fired pellets at them while they were covering an encounter in the Shirmal area of Shopian district in South Kashmir on Tuesday.
The four photojournalists were Hindustan Times' Waseem Andrabi, Nisar-ul-Haq of local daily, Rising Kashmir, Junaid Gulzar of Kashmir Essence and Mir Burhan of ANN.
Two among us were wearing vests which has a PRESS sticker clearly on it. Still, the security men fired indiscriminately
Waseem is the recepient of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for his reportage of the protests and curfew in the valley that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
He reportedly received the pellet on his hands and face, but others may have eye injuries too, a source told the International Business Times, India, The incident occured when the locals clashed with the security forces after the encounter got over.
The security forces used pellet guns to disperse the crowd, but the photojournalists claimed that they were attacked by the Central Reserve Police Forces personnel despite showing them heir cameras.
"Two among us were wearing vests which has a PRESS sticker clearly on it. Still, the security men fired indiscriminately," Waseem told the Kashmir Walla.
The incident has sparked widespread condemnation from the leaders and the journalist fraternity in the valley.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called the incident as unfortunate and said that firing indiscriminately at the crowd by the security forces will always be counter productive.
Highly unfortunate reports about journalists injured, including some with pellet injuries, while covering clashes in South Kashmir. I condemn this incident. The indiscriminate use of force, often without any accountability, will always be counterproductive.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 22, 2019
IPS officer's brother among militants
Journalists based in valley and elsewhere, while wishing their injured colleagues speedy recovery, condemned the act as inhumane.
Perils of working in a conflict zone. HT photographer @waseem_andrabi among four hit by pellets in Shopian. Hope you are okay? @htTweets https://t.co/ktrGjZooLc — Harinder Baweja (@shammybaweja) January 22, 2019
Photojournalist @brburhan786 hit by pellets in Shopian while covering protests. Burhan's face, neck, back and legs are injured. Other three photojournalists including Nasir ul Haq, Junaid Gulzar and Waseem Andrabi were also hit by pellets @pressfreedom @RSF_inter pic.twitter.com/JBvEtlKhk0
— Aamir Ali Bhat (@Aamirbhatt3) January 22, 2019
The encounter earlier ended with the killing of three militants including the brother of an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is posted in North-east India. The Army and Special Operation Group, J&K Police, earlier acted on a tip-off and cordoned off an orchard in Heff, Shirmal area of Shopian district, where at least four militants were hiding. Although one reportedly fled, the three were killed in the encounter in which a soldier also sustained injuries.