Three journalists, including a News18 reporter, were allegedly thrashed by police personnel while they were covering the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Mudasir Qadri (News18 Urdu), Fayaz Lolu and Junaid Rafiq also claimed their equipment was seized by the policemen who took them to a police post after physically assaulting them.
Qadri said the incident took place when they asked the local police officer about the delay in conducting of the polls in the area. Soon after, Anantnag (SSP) Sandeep Choudhry abused them and also detained them for hours, Qadri added.
One of the journalists then developed breathlessness issues following which he was shifted to a nearby hospital where he is undergoing treatment.
While the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) termed the incident at Srigufwara in Anantnag district as "unfortunate" and called for a thorough inquiry, the Kashmir Editors' Guild (KEG) expressed concern. Police officials refused to comment on the incident.
"We hope strict action is taken against those found guilty in this act perpetrated in utter disregard of the freedom of the press. The KPC further urges the Chief Electoral Officer to take note of such incidents and initiate action against the concerned police official," the KPC said in a statement.
"KEG is concerned over the recurrence of these incidents in which reporters are being subjected to violence while discharging their professional duties. Apparently, there is no reason for today's incident to happen," it said. "Why should a reporter be beaten when the officer has the right to not respond to a question? KEG hopes the LG Manoj Joshi administration will look into the incident and ensure that this practice of abuse of authority is put to an end," it said.
Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter to condemn the incident. "Three journalists thrashed by security forces in South Kashmir today after interviewing a PAGD candidate who wasn't allowed to cast his vote. Everything & anything that involves stating the truth is being criminalised in J&K," she said.
(With inputs from PTI)