On Sunday, a woman journalist had to go through virtual hell in Kashmir, reported The Telegraph. Rifat Mohidin was deeply scared on Sunday when the police rained its batons on her car as she sat inside, crying through it all; when all she did was just ask the policemen not to be rude to her. She is a correspondent for The Tribune, based in Chandigarh. She had abuses being hurled at her for the simple mistake of expecting somebody to be polite, reported The Telegraph.
“I had never before heard the kind of abuses they hurled at me. They battered my car with their batons, although the windows were spared. I started crying but none dared come to my rescue. I’m still in shock. I have already had a tough time convincing my family that I was safe as a journalist even during these times. If I tell them what happened today, they might not allow me to continue,” Rifat told The Telegraph. Rifat said that on her way, she was stopped at 15 points even though it was just a 3km stretch from Rajbagh to the media centre.
“At Jahangir Chowk, the security forces were adamant that I should return. I urged them not to be rude to me. This infuriated them and what followed was hell. For several minutes they kept hitting my car and abused me and my family. “I told them I had a curfew pass but they would not listen. I did not know what to do. Eventually, one CRPF man was kind enough to ask me to drive on. I parked my car somewhere and was in tears all the way to the media centre.” she shared with The Telegraph. Even though people noticed, with so many curfews and so many horror stories floating about the army; everybody was scared to help. She heard people say it was ‘zulm’ but they were too fearful to help.
As times are already restrictive and stifling in Kashmir, with many journalists still waiting on their “curfew passes”, it has now become scary, especially for journalists.
Since the Valley’s August 5 lockdown, most media personnel have to wait in queues at the media centre to use the only available Internet and mobile facilities. The dozen-odd women reporters in the Valley face the same, if not more challenges as their male colleagues.
Previously, a woman journalist who works for an international TV channel was abused at by the forces, when they saw the cameraman accompanying her filming a few shots at Nowhatta in Srinagar’s old quarters. According to The Telegraph, Sunday, September 8 was perhaps the worst day for the Valley’s journalists, with the administration clamping the tightest restrictions since August 5.
According to The Telegraph, a spokesperson for the Valley’s Women Journalist Association said journalists in the region “often face disrespect and abuses at the hands of government forces. (The association) highly condemns the tactics used by government forces and calls for stern action by the police department. We also call upon the police department to issue a circular (saying) journalists (should) be allowed to perform their job hassle-free.”
The association pointed out that a few men were harassed and beaten up by the forces in Zadibal when they were covering processions during Muharram. This phenomenon of journalists receiving harassment and misdemeanour by government forces, is highly condemnable. Despite valid ID proof and curfew passes, journalists are not (being) allowed free and smooth movement, the association said, as per The Telegraph report.