‘It’s worse this time’, says photographer during latest Kashmir unrest

For four months, occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been under a curfew imposed after protests broke out when Burhan Wani martyred.

Journalists have been caught in the crossfire as protesters clash with police and authorities try to regain control by imposing curfews and blocking access to the internet.

CPJ has documented cases of protesters attacking the press and authorities ordering newspapers to stop publication.

Journalists have also reported being injured by police firing pellet guns to counter protests. Muzamil Mattoo and Zuhaib Maqbool, two freelance photojournalists, are among those to have been injured by pellets.

On September 4, the journalists were covering a gathering of about 40 people during the curfew in the Rainawari area of Srinagar.

Mattoo said that when police arrived to break up the gathering, an officer fired at him and Maqbool, despite the photographers identifying themselves to him as press. In an interview with CPJ, Mattoo recounts the attack and explains why the protests of 2016 are different from those in 2008 and 2010.

Amit Kumar, senior superintendent of the Jammu and Kashmir police in Srinagar, did not respond to CPJ’s telephone calls and text messages requesting comment.

The police arrested the youths and left, so we ran after them to keep ourselves safe. When we’re on the side of the police, the worst that can happen is that we’ll be hit by a stone thrown by a protester. If we’re on the other side, we might be hit by a shell, bullets, pellets…anything.

So Zuhaib and me went to the police [side] and started clicking pictures. [The police] told us, “Don’t click the pictures” in a tone that was too rude. When [the police] reached the other alley, they found it was blocked already from the front and they were stuck. -Business Recorder